Lewis helps lift Lawrence Co. over Magee Trojans

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 11, 2004

MONTICELLO — The Lawrence County Cougars defeated the MageeTrojans 22-13 in high school football action Friday night.

On a wet, sloppy night, the Cougars and Trojans combined for anincredible15 fumbles. In the tough conditions, Lawrence County’sdefense and special teams eventually carried the day against thepowerful 3A Trojans.

With the win, Coach Mike Davis’s Cougars improved to 5-2overall. The Cougars are 2-1 in Region 6-4A play. Magee, under thedirection of coach Jimmy Mangum, fell to 5-2.

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“It was ugly and it was sloppy,” said Davis, “but it was also awin against a very good team.

“Offensively, it was a tough night,” Davis explained. “Magee’sdefense was responsible for most of that. But our defense playedhard, too, and we got a couple of big plays out of our specialteams. This was a team effort.”

Lawrence County got a big game from senior J.P. Lewis who had a72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 60-yard kickoff returnthat set up a touchdown and a 20-yard touchdown carry. Lewis wasalso in on 9 tackles as a safety.

The Cougars needed all of those defensive and special teamsheroics as Lawrence County produced just 147 yards of totaloffense. Twelve of the Cougars’ 51 plays went for negative yardage.The Cougars fumbled 6 times and were fortunate to lose just 2.

Magee’s offense was having just as tough a time of it. TheTrojans had 199 yards in total offense but fumbled a whopping 9times. Lawrence County recovered 3 of those bobbles and theCougars’ Taebyus Smith intercepted a Trojan pass.

The sloppiness started early. Two minutes into the game, anerrant snap sailed over the head of Magee punter LaKendrickEasterling and out of the rear of the end zone for a safety. LCHSled 2-0.

That safety resulted in great field position for Lawrence Countythroughout the first quarter, but the Cougars were unable tocapitalize. Late in the period, with the Cougars threatening at theMagee 31, a mishandled pitch in the backfield turned the ball overto the Trojans. Fortunately for Lawrence County, the Cougar defensewas being just as stingy as Magee’s. Magee failed to pick up afirst down on its first 5 possessions.

At the start of the second quarter, Lawrence County put togetherone of its few quality drives. The Cougars went 62 yards in 9 playsto stretch their lead to 8-0. Quarterback Tavalas Peyton had a27-yard run and Chris Jefferson had runs of 10 and 13 yards,setting up Peyton’s 2-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt wasblocked. LCHS led 8-0.

In the last 4 minutes of the first half, Magee drove the lengthof the field, largely on the strength of tailback Michael McGee’srunning. McGee managed 127 rushing yards on a night that wasdominated by defense. On the last play of the first half, however,McGee was dropped for a loss,. The Trojans had disdained a fieldgoal attempt and went for a touchdown from the 6-yard line.

Early in the third quarter, Magee cut the Cougar lead to 8-6 ona 4-yard run by Nick Brown. The Trojans elected to go for 2 pointsin an attempt to tie the game. When the game officials ruled thatthe attempt came up just short, Magee coach Jimmy Mangum protestedvehemently, walking out onto the middle of the field. Mangum wasflagged for a 15-yard penalty.

The third quarter was an offensive disaster for Lawrence County,but Lewis’s kickoff return made up for that. With Magee having tokick from its own 30 because of the penalty, Lewis received thekick at his own 28, bobbled it momentarily, and burst right up themiddle for 72 yards and a touchdown. Travis Stalans’s PAT kick gavethe Cougars 2-score lead, at 15-6.

“The 15 yards had nothing to do with the kickoff return,” saidlong-time Lawrence County assistant Craig Davis. “J.P. popped itand was gone. He’d have scored if the goal line had been a halfmile away.”

It was a Lewis kickoff return for a touchdown, with less than 2minutes left in the game, that produced the winning points inLawrence County’s 32-27 win at Magee last season.

Lawrence County’s offensive woes continued until the fourthquarter, when the Cougars elected to go to a stack-I power set thatproved fairly successful. Lewis carried 5 times for 43 yards, allin the final period, from that formation.

Magee cut the lead to 15-13 on Magee’s 3-yard run with less than4 minutes left in the game. Lawrence County prepared for an onsidekick, but Magee elected to kick the ball deep.

That turned out to be a bad choice, as Lewis returned the kick60 yards to the Trojan 30-yard line. From there, Lewis iced thegame with a 20-yard jaunt around the right end. Stalans’s kick gavethe Cougars an insurmountable 9-point lead with only 2 minutes togo in the game.

“Everybody remembers the big plays,” Craig Davis said, “but in agame like this, the little things are magnified. Our snapper, BrettKing, and our punter, Ben Wall, got 5 punts out of there without ahitch tonight. If they screw a couple of those up on a wet night,we’re 4-3 right now, instead of 5-2.”