War Eagles makes it a long night for Lawrence Co.
WAYNESBORO — The Wayne County War Eagles hammered the LawrenceCounty Cougars 34-0 in opening-round Class 4A state playoff actionFriday night.
With the win, the two-time defending state champion War Eagles,coached by Marcus Boyles, improved to 11-0 on the season. WayneCounty is ranked No. 2 overall in Mississippi, No. 1 among 4Ateams.
Lawrence County, coached by Mike Davis, finished its season witha record of 5-6. The loss was the fourth straight for the Cougarswho stood at 5-2 through 7 games. The Cougars have been depleted byinjuries and personel issues in recent weeks. Five starters weresuspended for the final two games.
“It was a tough way to end the season,” Davis admitted, “butplaying Wayne County and Brookhaven in the last two weeks would’vebeen tough on anyone.
“We’ve been trying to piece together an offense and a defensethe last couple of weeks,” Davis continued. “We took a whippingtonight, but our kids did their best and walked off the field withtheir heads held high. It wasn’t all bad. Some really young kidsgrew up some tonight.”
Wayne County was led offensively by sophomore quarterbackDrexler Johnson. The MVP of last season’s state championship gameas a freshman, Johnson burned the Cougars with three first-quartertouchdown passes. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 160 yards.
Defensively, the War Eagles were paced by 6-foot-3, 345-poundnose tackle Jerrel Powe, rated to be one of the top defensivelinemen in the United States. Powe and middle linebacker AllenMcGay led an overpowering Wayne County defense that battered adepleted Lawrence County offensive line. The Cougar line had lost 4players, 3 to season-ending knee injuries, in the previous 3weeks.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” said Cougar offensive linecoach Craig Davis, “but we’ve never had to deal with anything likethat guy (Powe). We didn’t have much success, but trust me, itcould have been worse.
“My kids did everything in their power and we got Will (Harris,quarterback) through the night pretty much intact. To be honest, Iwas terribly worried about that.”
Wayne County didn’t waste any time getting started. Johnson hitRandall Lofton for 52 yards and a touchdown on the second play ofthe game. Just 4 minutes into the game, Wayne County’s ArthurEverett scored on a 20-yard run to make it a 14-0 game.
With just over 5 minutes to go in the period, Johnson threw hissecond TD pass of the night, a 25-yarder to Marquese Ray. Thequarter ended with Johnson throwing his third touchdown pass. WayneCounty tacked on one more score in the second quarter, thensubstituted liberally on offense after that.
Powe and company continued to make life tough on the LawrenceCounty offense. The Cougars gained just 97 yards of total offenseon the night, and never got any closer to paydirt than the WayneCounty 35-yard line.
The game was the Cougars’ first-ever football meeting with WayneCounty, thus their first trip to what has become one of Mississippihigh school football’s liveliest settings.
“We didn’t come over here under the best of circumstancestonight,” Coach Davis said, “but we were honored to get a playoffberth, and this is a great place to come and play. Despite theoutcome, this was a positive experience and our kids seemed toenjoy the challenge.”
Wayne County will host Laurel in a second-round game Fridaynight. Laurel eliminated Vancleave 21-14.