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Lawrence County wins thriller over S. Pike

MONTICELLO – LaQuan Hilliard scored on a quarterback sneak with51 seconds left in the game to lift the Lawrence County Cougars toa 29-28 victory over South Pike Friday night.

Hilliard’s score and Trevor Havis’ subsequent extra point, wrappedup the scoring in a wild fourth quarter that saw LCHS pull out animportant Division 7-4A win.

With the game on the line in the waning moments, and with LawrenceCounty trailing 28-22, Hilliard ran the ball seven straight timesfrom the spread formation, willing his team to victory. Hilliard’s42-yard run with three minutes left moved the football from theLCHS 43 to the South Pike 15, setting up the winningtouchdown.

With the win, Lawrence County improved to 4-5 overall, and 2-1 inthe division. With wins in their final two games, the Cougars canclinch second place in the division, as well as the home playoffgame that comes with it.

South Pike, coached by Willie Brown, fell to 2-6 overall, and 2-1in the league.

“It was a heckuva game,” said veteran Lawrence County coach MikeDavis. “South Pike has a good football team right now, regardlessof their record. With five minutes to go, we had to go the lengthof the field to get this win, and our guys got it done. I’m veryproud of them.”

South Pike took the lead with 5:26 left in the game, breaking a22-22 tie on a Devonta McNight-to-Willard Hampton touchdown pass.Lawrence County’s defense stopped a 2-point conversion attempt,however, giving the Cougars a chance to kick for the win afterHilliard’s final touchdown.

LCHS had tied the game early in the fourth on another Hilliard1-yarder, and a 2-point conversion run by Justin Barnes.

Hilliard, pressed into duty as Lawrence County’s third-stringquarterback, rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.Alexander Montgomery (20-97, TD) and Trevor Havis (10-63, TD) alsohad productive nights for the Cougars, but it was Hilliard who tookover the game in the waning moments.

“LaQuan has been pressed into a tough spot this season,” Davissaid. “We didn’t expect him to be our quarterback this season, andhe probably didn’t expect it, either. But he has come through forus. It could have been a tough fall if someone hadn’t stepped up tohelp us overcome some critical injuries. He’s done that.”

After a Montgomery touchdown staked Lawrence County to an early 7-0lead, South Pike stormed back. Dewayne Pounds scored on a 2-yardrun, then ran for 2 points, to give the Eagles and 8-7 lead. Earlyin the second quarter, Pounds broke loose on a 91-yard scoringjaunt, and Raheem Magee ran for 2. It was 16-7.

Late in the half, LCHS cut the lead to 16-7 on Havis’ 7-yard run.The Cougars narrowly missed scoring chances on long pass attemptson the final two plays of the first half.

A Russell Roberts touchdown gave South Pike a 22-14 lead midwaythrough the third quarter, but Lawrence County tied it only thesecond play of the fourth quarter on the first of Hilliard’sfourth-quarter TDs.

LCHS lined up as if to kick the extra point, but long-snapper KyleRodriguez fired the football to Justin Barnes, who raced into theend zone before the surprised Eagles could react. That made it22-22.

Willard Hampton’s touchdown reception gave South Pike its finallead of the night, setting the stage for Hilliard’s late heroics.South Pike got the football as far as the Lawrence County 35 in itslast-ditch effort, but Cougar defensive end Jordan Grayson sackedMcNight on the final play of the game, touching off a spiritedLawrence County celebration.

Unofficially, linebackers LaKendrick Barnes and Justin Barnes ledLawrence County with nine tackles each. Middle linebacker ZadariusWashington was a tremendous defensive force for South Pike.