If the humidity wasn't bad enough.
If the sloppy offensive play wasn't bad enough.
If the fumbles weren't bad enough.
Casey Nickels topped all that by finding time to throw up on the sideline early in the second half. First-game jitters? Nah.
The Washington-Wilkes senior lineman twisted his ankle and took ibuprofen.
"I guess I drank too much water," he said.
Did throwing up help?
"Absolutely," he said.
Lakeside and Washington-Wilkes coaches might find themselves with an upset stomach after watching the game film, as the teams combined for 14 fumbles in the Tigers' 20-10 season-opening win at Panther Stadium.
Washington-Wilkes rushed 38 times for 160 yards, more than half the yardage coming on two long runs. The Tigers recorded five first downs and committed eight penalties for 53 yards.
"You expect to make some mistakes. It's early," Washington-Wilkes coach Russell Morgan said. "And they did a good job defensively. They gave us fits."
Lakeside's defense accounted for its only touchdown. The Panthers scratched out only 67 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Quarterback Chris Drayton led the team with 18 rushing yards, along with a 2-for-7 passing performance for 25 yards.
"We've got to get our offense moving, and we know that," said Lakeside coach Randy Hill, whose team lost five of 10 fumbles. "We were a little shaky in scrimmages, not advancing the ball well."
Lakeside's first turnover proved to be costly.
On the second play from scrimmage, Demont Gresham recovered Chadd Thomas' miscue in mid-air and returned it 36 yards to the Lakeside 7.
Three plays later, the Tigers benefited from a little luck. A Lakeside defender tipped a Clete Wilson pass on the third down. The ball then deflected off tight end Khiry Tutt and into the arms of Gresham in the end zone.
"We don't work on bouncing it off the helmet, but we'll take it when it happens," Morgan said.
Drayton ignited the Panthers' triple-option offense with runs of 15 and 8 yards to start the second drive. But the Tigers' defense held him in check the other three quarters.
Drayton did fin d the end zone, however thanks to a special teams error. After Mark Tench's 42-yard field goal attempt came out low and hit the line, Travis Azar scooped up the ball and pitched it to Drayton , who went 75 yards untouched, pulling Lakeside within 3.
It wasn't enough.
Washington-Wilkes running back Jareon Small finished off the Panthers. He broke three tackles en route to a game-breaking 44-yard touchdown with 3:02 remaining.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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