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Hardy powers Lawrence Co. past Magee for first triumph

MONTICELLO — The Lawrence County Cougars defeated the MageeTrojans 41-25 in high school football action Friday night atLawrence County High School. The Cougars amassed 386 yards of totaloffense to overwhelm the visiting Trojans, who stayed in the gameby virtue of two long kick returns.

The star of the game was sophomore fullback Kendrick Hardy.Forced into a fullback role by injuries to juniors BrandonMiddlebrook and Dartravian Mikell, Hardy exploded for 198 yards,and 2 touchdowns, on 17 carries.

With the win, Coach Mike Davis’ Cougars improved to 1-2 on theyoung season. Magee, coached by Jimmy Mangum, fell to 1-2. TheLawrence County victory avenged a 28-14 loss to the Trojans lastseason at Magee.

“I’m proud our kids got to enjoy a victory,” coach Davis said.”I thought our kids played very hard, and played very decent games,the first two weeks. But they needed to enjoy a weekend with a winunder their belts. I’m very pleased with their effort.”

The Cougars are not a deep football team, and the injury bug cutpretty deeply into Davis’ squad last week. The fullback injuriesforced Hardy, a starting outside linebacker, over to the offense,which was already hurting from a shoulder injury to Nick Jackson, aleader and 3-year starter on the offensive line. Thus, the Cougarcoaching staff had to do some major juggling on both offense anddefense.

“My hat’s off to our assistant coaches,” Davis said. “They hadto do a lot of juggling, and a lot of teaching, this week. They dida very good job, and the players they juggled did a good job,too.”

The big story was Hardy, a sophomore who seems quite capable ofkeeping up a fine family football tradition. Hardy’s olderbrothers, Wayne and Kenterio play for USM and Co-Lin respectively.Both starred for Lawrence County. On Friday, Kendrick stepped outtheir lengthy shadows and keyed a Cougar victory.

“Kendrick got a lot thrown on him this week,” said Davis. “He’dbeen starting for us on the other side of the ball, and all of asudden he had to take a crash course on offense. Obviously, he camethrough in a big-time way for us.”

Lawrence County’s defense also came through. Aside from 2lengthy pass receptions by Jeremy Shaw, and a 22-yard run byquarterback Tywon Lee, the Trojans had very little success onoffense. Junior linebacker Dontray Collins and sophomore linemanCornelius Sibley spearheaded the LCHS defense.

Magee’s Andrew McGee got the Trojans off to a rousing start,returning the opening kickoff for 93 yards and a touchdown, and a7-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, Lawrence County knotted the game ona 1-yard sneak by quarterback Ryan McCall. Rishawn Haynes kickedthe extra point.

Magee fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and it was recovered by theCougars’ Curtis Carr. On the very next play, Hardy went right upthe middle for 32 yards and a touchdown, and a 14-7 LCHS lead.

When kicker Haynes miss-hit the ensuing kickoff, it had theeffect of an intentional on-side kick. Justin Hammond recovered forthe Cougars, and, 4 plays later, Hardy ripped off 23 yards andanother touchdown. The Cougars led 21-7.

A 50-yard pass from Lee to Shaw set up a Magee score with 4:01left in the first half, but Lawrence County responded with a43-yard kickoff return by Isaiah Ferdinand. After big runs by Hardyand Will Harris, McCall scored on another sneak, to gain a 28-13lead.

Midway through the third quarter, McCall connected on his firstTD pass of the season, a 24-yard toss to Mackenzie Woods. The extrapoint attempt was blocked, but the Cougars had a seeminglycomfortable 34-13 lead.

Magee wasn’t finished yet. A 32-yard Lee-to-Shaw connection setup Lee’s 4-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the fourthquarter. A two-point pass fell incomplete, and Lawrence County’slead stood at 34-19.

The Trojans got back into the thick of things moments later.Magee’s defense forced a quick 3-and-out, and a Justin Hammondpunt. Magee’s Shaw then put together an 85-yard masterpiece of apunt return, breaking tackles and zig-zagging through or past theentire LCHS punt team.

The Cougars’ lead was cut to 34-25, but the Lawrence Countydefense stopped another 2-point conversion attempt, and LCHS stillenjoyed its all-important 9-point lead.

Lawrence County sealed the victory on a Will Harris 4-yardtouchdown run with 5:57 left in the game.