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Lawrence County comeback sinks Florence in region test

MONTICELLO – The Lawrence County Cougars came from behind anddefeated the Florence Eagles 34-14 in Region 6-4A football actionFriday night. The Cougars overcame an early 14-0 deficit, reelingoff 34 straight points, to earn their first region win of theseason.

With the win, coach Mike Davis’ Cougars improved to 2-2 on theyoung season, and 1-0 in Region 6-4A play. Florence, under coachDennis Thompson, fell to 2-2, and 0-1 in the league.

Florence started the game with a 17-play, 74-yard, 8-minutetouchdown drive, in which the Eagles converted 3 fourth-down passplays. On fourth-and-goal from the Cougar 7-yard line, Eaglequarterback Hunter Thompson hit Will Vaughn for a touchdown and a7-0 lead.

Moments later, a blunder by the Lawrence County kickoff returnteam set the Eagles up with first-and-goal, at the 2-yard line.Florence quickly converted, and a stunned LCHS team trailed 14-0without having touched the football.

“The start just couldn’t have been any worse,” LCHS Coach MikeDavis said. “I was proud of the way our kids and our coaches kepttheir composure and kept plugging. There wasn’t anything easy aboutthis win tonight, but, considering the way things started out,we’re very happy to have it.”

After watching Florence control both the clock and thescoreboard in what was, for the Cougars, a miserable first quarter,Lawrence County battled back with a balanced, ball-control offenseof its own. After the first quarter, the Cougars doubled Florencein time of possession, as 5 different LCHS rushers rushed for 30yards or more, and 5 different Cougars scored touchdowns.

With 10:51 left in the first half, Lawrence County started itscomeback, putting together a long, 8-minute drive of its own. A20-yard run by Dontray Collins, and a 12-yard completion from RyanMcCall to Will Harris were the keys to a 79-yard drive. A 5-yardrun by Isaiah Ferdinand, along with Rishawn Haynes’ extra pointkick, made it a 14-7 game.

With 2:02 left in the half, Ethan Lambert sacked Florence’sThompson, causing a fumble. The Cougars’ Aaron Watson recovered,setting Lawrence County up at the Eagle 38-yard line. Three playslater, sophomore fullback Kendrick Hardy raced over right tacklefor 19 yards and a touchdown, and the game was tied at 14-14 at thehalf.

A Curtis Carr pass interception set up Lawrence County’sgo-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. The Cougars drove 62 yardsin 7 running plays, with Collins sweeping the left side for thefinal 31 yards. Collins, a standout junior linebacker for theCougars, got his first substantial offensive work, rushing for 57yards on 4 carries. LCHS led 21-14.

Early in the fourth quarter, Collins came up big on defense,recovering an errant shotgun snap at midfield. Three plays later,McCall hit Harris in perfect stride for 48 yards and a touchdown,making it a 28-14 Cougar lead.

Midway through the period, freshman Mathew Wells put the gameaway for the Cougars, scoring on a 10-yard TD run. Wells carried 3straight times, for 30 yards, on the clinching drive.

Ferdinand (16 for 74), Harris (10-39), Collins (4-57), Hardy(7-33), and Wells (5-31) all had productive rushing nights.Freshman Josh Cameron (3-16) also contributed to the solid rushingeffort.

And while Lawrence County passed just 3 times, compared toFlorence’s 32 passes, McCall was very efficient, completing all 3for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Florence tacked on a final score with 1:42 left in the game, asThompson connected with John Adams for 28 yards.

“Florence pitches and catches really well,” Davis said, “sothey’re going to make some plays. But it took them 32 pass attemptsto get those 153 yards, and we got 4 turnovers off their passinggame-2 interceptions and 2 sack fumbles. We can live with that.

“We’ve got to eliminate those bad starts,” he continued. “Twoweek in a row we’ve gotten behind immediately, and we’ve been ableto come back. Bad start aside, I’m proud of our kids. They’veplayed very hard for us four straight weeks.”