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Fourth quarter lifts LCHS over Franklin Co.

MONTICELLO – Quarterback Casey Williams and cornerback TimothyYoung provided the fourth-quarter heroics Thursday night and theLawrence County Cougars rallied past Franklin County’s Bulldogs27-16 in the rain-soaked season opener. Williams scored thego-ahead touchdown with 40 seconds left on the clock and Youngprovided some insurance by returning an interception 68 yards for aTD with four seconds showing.

A violent thunderstorm delayed the start of last night’s gamefor 73 minutes and kept both school’s bands from performing.Williams, a 200-pound senior, gave the Cougars a big lift byscoring 2 touchdowns, the final coming on a 5-yard keeper up themiddle, giving LCHS a 21-16 advantage.

“It was 14 Slam,” answered Williams when asked about the winningTD play. “I fake to the fullback (Randy Ferdinand) in the zero holeand take it to the hole. We gave it all we had.”

Young, a senior, intercepted Bulldog quarterback Tommy Gibbs atthe Cougars’ 32-yard line and began weaving his way back up thefield, picking up key blocks along the way. As a celebration, Youngand a few of his teammates did some flying belly flops through theankle-deep water standing on the home sideline.

“We were in a zone defense and I saw it (pass) coming,” saidYoung. “I was watching the quarterback. I wanted to take it(interception) back all the way.”

It was a see-saw battle on a rain-soaked field but there werefew fumbles. The Cougars had taken an early 7-0 lead on a 1-yardplunge by Williams and an extra point kick by Justin Stamps.

The Bulldogs got a safety when punter Marlon Stanfield knelt onone knee in the end zone to field a slow snap. The refereeindicated that the ball was downed. It was 7-2 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs took the lead when Gibbshooked up with Zach Thomas on an 11-yard completion. Thomas made aleaping catch in the end zone and Chris Blackwell added the PATkick for a 9-7 advantage.

The Cougars responded with an 80-yard scoring drive, needing 12plays to reach the end zone. Wingback Chris Jefferson took ahandoff from Williams for the final 3 yards over the left side. Theconversion pass failed and Lawrence led 13-9 with 11:39 left in thefourth quarter.

The Bulldogs bounced back, sparked by Jasper O’Quinn’s 14-yardkickoff return and 3 pass completions by Gibbs, a 6-foot, 200-poundsenior. Gibbs connected with Jonathon Brooks for 28 yards, O’Quinnfor 7 and Thomas for 19 and the touchdown. Blackwell’s kick pushedthe Bulldogs ahead 16-13 with 7:06 left in the game.

A high snap on a punting situation gift-wrapped a safety for theCougars. Blackwell was standing at his 24-yard line when the ballsailed over his head. He hurriedly kicked it out of the back of theend zone and the Cougars trailed 16-15.

Receiving the free kick, Jefferson caught the line drive byBlackwell and returned it all the way back to Franklin’s 27-yardline. The winning TD march required 7 plays.

“A lot of our kids had to go both ways and they played harduntil they dropped,” said Franklin County head coach Anthony Hart.”I’m proud of our kids. My ninth grade fullback (Gary Rogers) did agood job.”

Hart lost 22 seniors to graduation. “We had a lot of youngplayers step up and play well tonight.”

Offensively, the Cougars were led by Ferdinand who rushed theball 20 times for 116 yards. Williams had 23 carries for 63yards.

“I think I’d have to give the game ball to our defense,” saidLCHS head coach Trent Hammond. “They stood tall several times whenthey (Bulldogs) were threatening to score. We don’t have a starterover 200 pounds.”

Hammond said linemen Kevin Green had to learn a new position dueto an injured player. “Kevin swapped sides from weak to strong sidetackle and played well.”

According to Hammond, wingbacks Donovan Dixon and Jefferson “dida great job.” He also complimented Williams and Ferdinand for theirleadership efforts.

“This was an exciting game,” said Hammond. “I’m just happy towin it.”