Lawrence Co. conquers Hill in second half surge

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 4, 2004

MONTICELLO — The Lawrence County Cougars defeated the Jim HillTigers 33-23 in Region 6-4A high school football action Fridaynight . The Cougars used a ball-control ground attack to drive fortouchdowns on each of its last 5 offensive possessions, overcominga 15-14 halftime deficit in the process. The Cougars were buoyed byTaebyus Smith’s 188-yard, 3-touchdown rushing effort.

With the win, Lawrence County improved to 4-2 overall, and 2-1in 6-4A. Jim Hill, coached by Henry Blount, fell to 2-4, and 0-3 inthe division.

First-year Lawrence County coach Mike Davis was understandablypleased with the victory. “This was a very good win for our team.To be honest, I thought we were in trouble at halftime. But ouroffense came out and drove the ball every time we got it in thesecond half, and our defense came out and played harder andbetter.”

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While the LCHS defense was grinding out 344 yards and 22 firstdowns, the Cougar defense was doing its best to contain Jim Hillquarterback Tony Hobson who completed 11 of 21 passes for 136 yardsand a touchdown. Hobson also ran for 2 touchdowns.

However, the Cougars sacked Hobson 4 times, resulting in 33yards in losses. Hobson was also intercepted once, setting up aLawrence County touchdown.

Jim Hill took the opening kickoff and drove impressively, deepinto Cougar territory. On third-and-1, from the LCHS 5-yard line,Tiger running back Tremoine Toins was dropped for a 3-yard loss. Onfourth down, the Cougars’ Michael Preston and Kelly Pounds brokethrough to drop Hobson for a loss.

“Neither team could stop the other from moving the ball,” Davissaid. “There wasn’t a single punt in the game. But while ouroffense was able to complete most of its drives, our defense cameup with a couple of big stops with our backs to the end zone.Hobson tried to bootleg on that play, but Kenterio (Hardy) stayedhome and didn’t allow him to get outside.”

An exchange of turnovers followed. On the Cougars’ very firstplay from scrimmage, fullback Taebyus Smith bolted right up themiddle for 66 yards, only to fumble deep in Tiger territory. Threeplays after that, Lawrence County cornerback Stevie Carr picked offa Hobson pass and returned it 20 yards, to the Jim Hill 14.

Four plays later, wingback Will Harris plowed into the end zoneon a 3-yard run. Travis Stalans kicked the PAT, giving the Cougarsa 7-0 lead.

The Cougar lead was short-lived. Jim Hill got a good kickoffreturn, then quickly drove downfield for the tying touchdown. Thebig play was a perfectly executed screen pass from Hobson to Toins,covering 36 yards. Hobson then scored on a 2-yard run, and kickedthe extra point to tie the game.

Lawrence County came right back, driving 80 yards in 9 plays. A46-yard connection between quarterback Tavalas Peyton and tight endBen Wall was the big play in the series. Smith scored the first ofhis 3 touchdowns on a 3-yard run. LCHS led 15-7.

The see-saw battle continued as Hill drove right back down thefield in a 14-play march. Hobson hit Jeremy Odom for 2 yards and ascore with just 11 seconds left in the half. Coach Blount thendaringly elected to go for 2 points. Toins converted, sending theCougars to the locker room facing a 15-14 deficit.

“That was a tough end to the half,” Davis admitted. “Our fieldhouse wasn’t a very happy place during halftime. The way ouroffense came out and rammed the ball down the field at the start ofthe second half was huge. If we go 3-and-out right there, thismight have been Jim Hill’s night.”

The Cougars put together their biggest drive of the season,trudging 72 yards in 13 plays. In the process, the Cougars used upalmost two-thirds of the third quarter. Danny Powell scored on a3-yard run. A 2-point attempt failed, but LCHS had a 20-15lead.

Jim Hill again drove the length of the field, but the Cougardefense came up with another big red zone stop, when Kenterio Hardysacked Hobson for a 10-yard loss. The Tigers were facing afourth-and-2 situation from the LCHS 8-yard line.

The Cougars salted the game away with an 82-yard, 12-play drive.Smith carried on 8 of the plays, eventually scoring on an 11-yardrun. LCHS led 26-15. Will Harris recovered a Tiger fumble just 1play later, setting up Smith’s final touchdown of the night, on a2-yard plunge.

Jim Hill scored its final touchdown on the last play of thegame, on Hobson’s 15-yard run.

“I’m proud of this win, proud of our kids,” Davis said. “Thefans in the stands have no way of knowing what’s going on behindthe scenes sometimes.

“Our rookie quarterback is in here throwing up, terribly sickwith a stomach virus,” Davis revealed. “He’s miserable, but hewalks right out there and quarterbacks a high school football gamewithout one word of complaint.

“I admire and appreciate that. We’re a very thin team, in termsof depth, and we’ve been hit hard by the injury bug, but our kidshave hung in there pretty well through six weeks. We couldn’t haveasked for more.”