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LCHS enjoys the ashes

MONTICELLO – Newspaper clipping ashes floated to the floor ofthe Lawrence County field house Friday night as the Cougarscelebrated their 42-14, second round Class 4A playoff victory overLaurel’s Golden Tornados.

Redeemed and absolved from two straight second-round playoffseatbacks the previous two seasons, the team enthusiasticallycheered while LCHS head coach Mike Davis set fire to newspaper gamestories from The DAILY LEADER that recounted the setbacks.

“We finally got that monkey (second round) off our backs,” saidLCHS senior tight end Jamie McCardle. “It feels good to get thatsecond-round win.”

McCardle and his teammates advance to the third round and face aroad game at Greene County, which eliminated Magee 22-21. In theother South State 4A semifinal game, St. Stanislaus plays ForrestCounty AHS. St. Stanislaus eliminated Columbia 35-14 and ForrestCounty edged North Pike 30-27.

Powered by a 3-pronged rushing attack, the Cougars (9-4)overwhelmed Laurel (6-6) with 475 yards total offense, all on theground. Josh Cameron paved the way with 182 yards and 2 touchdowns.He had plenty of help as Matthew Wells gained 112 yards and scored1 TD. Fullback Will Turnage plowed for 108 yards and 2 TDs as theCougars roared to a 28-7 halftime lead.

Defensively, the Cougars rose to the occasion and groundedLaurel’s explosive passing attack. Sophomore quarterback DontrellePruitt displayed a rifle arm but many of his passes were eitherunderthrown, broken up or dropped. He completed 16 of 25 passes for189 yards and scrambled for 1 TD midway through the fourthquarter.

“We thought the key coming into the game was not give up thedeep shots (passes),” said Coach Davis as he walked off the fieldwith his wife and daughter. “We controlled the game on offense. Ourkids played hard and I’m proud of them.”

The Cougars asserted themselves on their first possession,marching 97 yards in 10 plays. Cameron broke around his right sideand scored from 14 yards out. Trevor Havis kicked his first of 6extra points with 4:39 left in the first quarter.

After a 12-yard touchdown run by Turnage, the Tornados got onthe scoreboard with 5:47 left in the first half. Pruitt’s 54-yardcompletion to Markel Milsap to the LCHS 7, set up a 2-yard plungeby Darian Bester, cutting the deficit to 14-7.

A fumbled punt return, recovered by Logan Berand, set up aslashing, 21-yard TD scamper by Wells. That was followed by anotherbig turnover as Tremaine Brown broke through and blocked Laurelpunter Mac Carmichael’s kick. The ball was scooped up by defensiveend Curtis Brown and returned 8 yards for a TD.

LCHS led 28-7 with 1:44 left in the first half.

“We have been through a lot of adversity but we have worked hardto get better,” said Cougar offensive lineman Eric Boutte.”Everybody was focused this week in practice.”

A 66-yard TD drive started the second half and Cameron climaxedthe march with an 11-yard blast, cutting back through thesecondary. A 45-yard run by Cameron set up an 11-yard smash up themiddle by Turnage on the second play of the fourth quarter, makingit 42-7 with 11:15 left to play.

“Lawrence County is a good team and they played well,” saidLaurel boss Milton Smith who coached the Tornados to a Class 4Astate championship in 2007. “My hat’s off to them and we wish themwell the rest of the playoffs.”

Defensively, the Cougars were led by linebacker LakendrickBarnes and tackle Byron Hammond.