NORTH CANTON Last week, Lake went with two quarterbacks and two main running backs in an effort to jump-start its offense.
Friday night at North Canton, the Blue Streaks were twice as nice again with a big assist from their offensive line.
Lake scored on first-half drives of 80, 75, 80 and 80 yards on its way to a 28-14 Federal League victory over Hoover. Running backs Joel Francis and Cameron Martin each scored twice, Francis on runs of 2 and 1 yards, and Martin on a 1-yard run and a 61-yard pass from Owen Goodheart as the Blue Streaks ran for 202 of their 284 yards in the first half.
That snapped a two-game losing streak for Lake, which got its first league win in three games while improving to 5-2.
"All week, the coaches told us about how we had to run the ball," said Lake senior center Josh Hutcherson. "Last week (against McKinley) we struggled a little. All year, everybody knows we're a running team, so up front we've got to block one, two extra guys.
"We really worked our butts off tonight — and it showed on the field."
The Lake offensive line of Hutcherson, Petey Flower, Alek Davis, Jacob Hutcherson, Jared Ritenour and tight end Brandon Hadinger was excellent both run blocking and pass blocking the first half. They set things up for some big plays that Lake had been unable to hit in losses to Jackson and McKinley, and they were from a variety of players.
Zach Sturmie took Francis' handoff and gained 45 yards on a flanker reverse on the game's first play from scrimmage. On 4th-and-4 from Hoover's 29, quarterback Owen Goodheart flipped a back screen to Hadinger, who ripped off a 24-yard gain that led to Francis' 2-yard score.
A 28-yard run by Francis on Lake's second possession gave him a blow, and the sophomore Martin bolted 47 yards on a draw to set up his 1-yard score the next play for a 14-0 lead.
"We struggled running the ball a little the past two weeks," Lake head coach Dan DeGeorge said. "We had a huge emphasis on that this week. Our offensive line responded to that. I think they took it personally.
"They played angry and they played physical. That's exactly how we wanted to play."
Hoover's lone minute in the sun offensively came when it answered Lake's second touchdown. Running back Luke Reicosky gained 3 yards on 4th-and-3 at the Lake 16. The next play, quarterback John Keller fired a 13-yard touchdown to Alex Nicholson.
A 13-play, 80-yard Lake answer took the steam out of the Vikings. Quarterbacks Goodheart and Zack Straley mixed it up on the drive, with Goodheart converting a 3rd-and-5 pass to Tye Hunt for a first down, and Straley running 13 yards on 2nd-and-13 for another.
Francis chipped in big runs of 17, 13 and 9 before scoring from the 1.
When Martin took a throwback screen and ran through the Vikings for 61 yards, it was 28-7 at half and that was the game. Lake used third-quarter interceptions by Hadinger and Anthony Fisher to ensure the win, although Hoover hung tough in the second half and added a late 1-yard touchdown by Reikosky.
"Joel and Cameron ran so hard tonight, they ran their hearts out," Josh Hutcherson said. "Straley and Owen are seniors who were fighting for the quarterback position, and they both showed great leadership as captains."
Francis ran 16 times for 75 yards, and Martin carried a dozen times for 66 yards, while Straley chipped in 31 to go with Sturmi's one big carry.
Goodheart went a solid 9-for-14 for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Hoover lost its fourth straight to fall to 3-4 and 0-4 in the league.
"(Lake) did a lot of good things on offense," said Vikings head coach Brian Baum. "They kept us off balance and made plays when they needed to, especially in the first half.
"We played flat in the first half. I'm very disappointed in the first half, from the coaches down to the players. You don't win football games like that."
Reach Jim at Jim.Thomas@cantonrep.com.
On Twitter: @jthomasREP