Hardy carries LCHS Cougars over Mendenhall

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MENDENHALL – The Lawrence County Cougars defeated the MendenhallTigers 40-20 in Region 6-4A football action Friday night. TheCougars’ Kendrick Hardy added to one of the best individual seasonsin LCHS history, rushing for 284 yards and 4 touchdowns. IsaiahFerdinand added 121 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.

With the win, Coach Mike Davis’ Cougars improved to 6-1 overall,and 3-1 in Region 6-4A play. Mendenhall, coached by Chris Peterson,fell to 1-6 on the season. The win kept Lawrence County in secondplace in the region, with a first-round home playoff game stillmuch within the Cougars’ grasp.

“We’d love to make the playoffs,” Davis said, “and we’d love toget to host, so this was a big win or us. Mendenhall was a scaryteam for us. They are much more competitive than their record mightindicate. It had been a couple of years since we’d beatenthem.”

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After beating Mendenhall 9 straight times, Lawrence County haddropped the last 2 meetings between the schools, by a combinedscore of 61-7. Hardy made sure the Tigers weren’t going to make itthree in a row.

“Kendrick’s having an incredible season,” Davis said. “He’sdoing a great job of toting it, but he’s benefited from a prettysalty effort by the guys up front. They’re sort of an unheraldedgroup, but they play hard every week.”

It didn’t take long for Hardy to get started. Early in the firstquarter, after Rochea Johnson’s 53-yard punt pinned Lawrence Countyback on its own 7-yard line, Hardy broke through the middle for 93yards and his 15th touchdown of the season. Rishawn Haynes kickmade it 7-0.

Mendenhall quickly fumbled away the ensuing possession, settingLawrence County up at the Tiger 27-yard line. This time, it tookHardy 2 plays to light up the scoreboard. He did so, on a 23-yardrun. The extra point attempt was no good, but it was 13-0 midwaythrough the first quarter, and it appeared as though the route wason.

Mendenhall had other ideas. Led by gutsy junior quarterbackMontrell Edwards, the Tigers responded with an impressive 11-play,72-yard drive. A 31-yard pass from Edwards to Mark Johnson set upWillie Bernoudy’s 20-yard touchdown run, making it a 13-6 game.

Lawrence County then put together a long, methodical drive, onlyto fumble the ball away at the Mendenhall 4-yard line. Four playslater, after Johnson’s 32-yard run, Edwards connected with JasonCatchings for 49 yards and a touchdown. The Tigers missed theirsecond straight extra point attempt, but it was suddenly a 13-12game.

Hardy quickly restored order, going 56 yards for his thirdtouchdown of the night. Haynes’ kick made it 20-12.

Late in the half, Cougar linebacker Julius Magee, on afourth-and-two play, tackled Bernoudy inches short of a first down.Taking over at its own 41, Lawrence County managed to cram 9 playsinto the final 1:41 of the first half. On the final play play ofthe half, Ferdinand scored on a 1-yard run, giving the Cougars a27-12 halftime lead.

“That was very good finish to the first half,” Coach Davis said.”We were in good shape until we fumbled that touchdown away. All ofa sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of a dogfight. It wasimportant that we regain some momentum, and our guys were able todo that.”

Lawrence County largely put the game away with a long touchdowndrive to start the second half. Again, Hardy found the end zone,this time on a 23-yard run. Ferdinand and Josh Cameron contributedkey rushes to the drive.

Ferdinand and Cameron carried the Cougars down the field againin the fourth quarter, with Ferdinand scoring on a 3-yard plunge.Miles Hill kicked the PAT, giving LCHS a 40-12 lead.

Late in the game, Edwards, who kept plugging away despite takinga brutal beating, connected with Catchings for 74 yards. That setup Edwards’ 12-yard touchdown run.

Lawrence County amassed a whopping 514 yards of total offense,483 of it on the ground. And the Cougar defense, after a strugglingfirst half, limited the Tigers to just 3 second-half firstdowns.

“They came out and showed us some things we weren’t expecting inthe first half,” Davis said. “Things they hadn’t showed at all. Ourdefensive coaches and players did a good job of working it out athalftime.”