SEVEN SPRINGS - The 482-day layoff was worth the wait.
Especially for Lucas Barfield.
The Spring Creek quarterback experienced a Friday night he’ll remember for a lifetime during a season-opening, 36-26 victory over Lakewood at “The Swamp.”
Barfield rushed for a career-high 213 yards and accounted for five touchdowns - four rushing, one passing. He supplied 248 of the team’s 344 yards of total offense.
“It was fun, been waiting all year,” Barfield said. “I do a lot of running in my off time, so I don’t get tired very much. My offensive line, I thank them [because] they were the key to my success.
“We just played with heart tonight. It was raining, was cold. We just had to ground and pound, run the ball all the time.”
That wasn’t the case early.
The slick field conditions made the football more like a grenade with no pin. Spring Creek fumbled on three consecutive offensive possessions, but unlike previous years, it didn’t implode.
Barfield ran the Wing-T package with the precision of a Timex watch. His touchdown runs of nine and four yards, and two-point conversion gave the Gators a 14-12 advantage at halftime.
“Most of the time, here, we don’t know the meaning of winning all the time here in all sports, so they’re still learning how to win,” SC head coach Daniel Robinson said. “We told them at halftime, normally when we fumble the ball three or four times, we’re down 35 at the half.
“Instead, we had the lead.”
The Gators didn’t relinquish their advantage, either.
Barfield benefited from an offensive line that controlled the line of scrimmage as playing conditions worsened from a steady rain. Doug Davidson ripped off a long run and Barfield followed with a 25-yard TD scamper.
Barfield’s two-point run made it 22-12.
Lakewood closed the gap to 22-20.
Instead of folding under pressure, the Gators answered with another scoring drive. Barfield completed a fourth-down, 35-yard scoring strike to Dorian Cherry, who had slipped behind the secondary into open space.
“Coach [David] McSwain and Coach [Heath] Whitfield have done an outstanding job in a short amount of time. The kids have picked up on it. They keep the terminology easy for them to understand and they’ve grasped it.
“It’s going to keep getting better.”
The defense responded after Barfield’s third TD.
Up 28-20, Robert Wiggins helped create some breathing room after he recovered a Lakewood fumble. Cherry broke free for a 17-yard run, which set up Barfield’s fourth TD - a 5-yard dive.
The Leopards pulled to within 36-26 before sophomore linebacker Robert Strickland logged a fourth-down QB sack. The Gators took over with 5:39 left in regulation and successfully ran out the clock behind Barfield, Cherry (54 yards rushing) and Davidson (42 yards).
Dylan Davidson (one sack) and Robert Wiggins led the defense with nine and five tackles, respectively.
“With two minutes left when we had gained controlled of it we were talking on the headsets that we had been preaching stopping number eight [Lakewood’s Tillyon Williams] all night on the other team,” Robinson said. “Then [assistant coach] Paul Hayes made a comment that Lucas was the best player on the field tonight.
“We rarely have that here, but it was nice to look out there and see a player from Spring Creek could take over a football game.”
Spring Creek claimed its first season-opening win since 2015 and snapped an 11-game losing streak against Lakewood.