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NE Jones stops Lawrence Co.

LAUREL-Northeast Jones brought Lawrence County’s 2008 footballseason to a halt Friday night, beating the Cougars 28-13 in thesecond round of the state Class 4A playoffs.

Northeast got outstanding performances from quarterback ChuckyNichols and receiver Cory Harrison, and a solidbend-but-don’t-break effort from its defense, to advance to thethird round.

Nichols passed for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns, and ran for 100yards and a score. Harrison caught 6 passes for 139 yards and 2scores, and intercepted an LCHS pass in the end zone.

With the win, Bubba Hathorn’s Tigers improved to 10-2, and willtake on D’Iberville Friday. Mike Davis’ Cougars ended the season at10-2 for the second straight year, champions of Region 6-4A.

“We had a great season,” Davis said, “but we got beat by a verygood team tonight. We didn’t play a bad game, but Northeast playeda better one. They deserved to win the game.”

The LCHS offense put up impressive numbers, gaining 396 yards oftotal offense, but Northeast’s stubborn defense allowed the Cougarsto get in the end zone just twice. Senior all-stater KendrickHardy, still slowed by an injured big toe, rushed for 141 yards on15 carries. Matthew Wells had another big night, rushing for 173yards on 19 attempts. Josh Cameron, seeing his first action inweeks after suffering an ankle injury, picked up 50 yards on 10tries.

Northeast struck quickly, with fullback Chris Moncivias darting49 yards on the second play of the game. Lawrence County respondedjust as quickly, with Wells going 55 yards on the Cougars’ thirdoffensive play. It was 7-7.

Northeast Jones followed with a 9-play, 68-yard drive thatculminated with Nichols’ 15-yard touchdown pass to Harrison. Theextra point attempt failed, but the Tigers had a 13-7 lead with5:36 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Nichols and Harrison connectedagain on a 35-yarder, with Harrison stretching out to make aspectacular end zone grab. Nichols ran for 2 points, making it a21-7 game.

Three plays later, Hardy broke through the middle of theNortheast Jones defense and raced 62 yards, only to be caught atthe Tiger 2-yard line. Three plays later, Wells scored to make it a21-13 game. The extra point attempt was blocked.

Early in the third quarter, the LCHS defense bailed the Cougarsout of a major jam. A fumbled shotgun snap and a fumbled punt snaphanded Northeast Jones the football at the Lawrence County 6-yardline. The Cougar defense allowed nothing, however, and forced ashanked field goal attempt.

Moments later, Wells broke loose on a 73-yard run, all the wayto the Northeast Jones 6-yard line. Four plays later, Wells wasstuffed on fourth-and-one, as the Tiger defense preserved itslead.

With 7:14 left in the game, Lawrence County’s final scoringthreat ended with Harrison intercepting an Adam Watson pass in theend zone. With 3:55 left, quarterback Nichols provided Northeast’sfinal points on a 39-yard run.

“As disappointed as we are, and as much as we wanted to play afew more weeks, I’m awfully proud of this team, of these kids, aswell as my assistant coaches,” said Davis. “We had a great timetogether.”