Lawrence Co. claims Region 6-4A crown

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 27, 2008

JACKSON — The Lawrence County Cougars clinched the Region 6-4Afootball championship Friday night by defeating the Forest HillRebels 38-14. Lawrence County scored touchdowns the first 5 timesit had the football, racing to a 35-0 lead.

With the win, Lawrence County improved to 8-1 overall, and 5-0in the region. The Cougars will wrap up region play Friday night,at Port Gibson, but that game is of no consequence in terms of theregion race. Forest Hill, coached by Mario Lane, fell to 6-3overall, and 3-2 in the region. The Rebels have clinched a 4Aplayoff spot.

It was a workmanlike performance in which Lawrence County builta lead over Forest Hill, then basically cruised through much of thesecond half. It was a fairly typical night for the Cougars’ “Big3.” Senior Kendrick Hardy rushed 16 times for 99 yards and atouchdown. Hardy carried the football just once after halftime.

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Josh Cameron carried 10 times for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns.Cameron suffered a minor ankle injury early in the second half anddid not return.

Matthew Wells had 11 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown. Healso intercepted 2 Forest Hill passes while playing safety.

“We had a pretty good night,” said fifth-year LCHS coach MikeDavis. “We’re awfully proud and honored to be the division champs.We’d love to keep this good run going for a while.”

The Cougars will host the No. 4 team out of Region 8-4A on Nov.7, in the opening round of the state playoffs.

The Cougars took advantage of Wells’ first interception to graban early lead. Forest Hill quarterback Isaih Smith passed theRebels into LCHS territory on the opening possession, but Wellsintercepted a Smith pass and returned it to the Rebel 47. Nineplays later, Cameron scored on a 3-yard run, giving the Cougars a7-0 lead.

After a shanked Rebel punt, Lawrence County quickly made it a14-0 game. Hardy scored on a 3-yard run. Cameron had a 27-yard run,and Wells, an 11-yarder, to set it up.

Forest Hill put together a nice drive of its own after that, buton fourth-and-goal from the LCHS 6-yard line, Wells stepped infront of a Smith pass and raced 100 yards for an apparenttouchdown. A penalty flag negated the great return, however, givingthe Cougars the football at their own 14.

With his long interception return negated, Wells found anotherway to get onto the highlight reel. Three plays later, Wells sweptthe Cougar sideline for 46 yards and a touchdown, on one of hisspectacular runs of the season.

“I hate that he didn’t get his 100-yard return,” Coach Davissaid, “but that was some run he followed it up with. That was oneof those plays that makes you glad he’s on our side.”

After the LCHS defense forced another Rebel punt, the Cougarshad time for one last scoring drive-but just barely. Completing a69-yard, 12-play march, quarterback Adam Watson squeezed justinside the orange end zone pylon on the final play of the firsthalf, scoring on a 1-yard run. That made it 28-0 at the half.

For all intents and purposes, the game ended just 2 minutes intothe second half when Josh Cameron scored on a 15-yard run. It was35-0, and the Cougars were largely on cruise control afterthat.

Forest Hill got on the board with a defensive touchdown shortlythereafter, when linebacker Patrick Black picked up a Cameronfumble and raced 65 yards for a touchdown.

The Cougars responded with a long march, powered largely byreserve running backs Kendrick Hilliard and JeJuan Isom. The driveculminated with Trevor Havis’ 32-yard field goal, his first fieldgoal of the season.

Forest Hill scored the final points of the night on a 52-yardscreen pass from Smith to Dylan Davis. Smith passed to EmmanuelJefferies Jr. for 2 points.

Unofficially, junior linebacker Marcus Brown led the Cougardefense in tackles. Along with Wells’ two picks, LCHS cornerbackFord Johnson also had a pass interception.