Mendenhall cruises past Lawrence County

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, September 29, 2013

MONTICELLO – Kendrick Feazell rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns and Jay McDaniel intercepted three passes, as the Mendenhall Tigers defeated the Lawrence County Cougars, 41-27 in high school football action Friday night.

Mendenhall jumped to a 20-7 lead early in the second quarter, then fought off repeated Lawrence County challenges the rest of the night, as the Tigers earned their first win of the season.

With the win, Coach Paul Purvis’ Tigers improved to 1-5 on the season, having battled their way through an incredibly tough early-season schedule. Lawrence County, under first-year coach Herbert Davis, fell to 3-3 on the campaign.

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“I thought the kids played hard,” Coach Davis said. “We obviously didn’t play well enough to win, but I liked the way we kept fighting back when they pulled away from us.”

LCHS freshman quarterback Hayden Davis has enjoyed a banner early season, but he was foiled by junior linebacker McDaniel on Friday. McDaniel stepped into the passing lanes to snare two of Davis’ passes, both interceptions setting up Mendenhall touchdowns. Late in the game, McDaniel picked off a Will Jackson pass. Johnny Willis also intercepted a pass for the Tigers.

Feazell, also a junior, scored on runs of 28, 12 and 10 yards, the final two coming in the latter stages of the game, helping to hold off a Lawrence County rally and putting the game away.

Lawrence County scored first, taking the opening kick-off and marching 75 yards in 8 plays, scoring on a five-yard Hayden Davis run. Joshua Stephens kicked the first of three extra points for the Cougars.

Mendenhall tied the game late in the first quarter, when quarterback Keairez Coleman scored on a three-yard run. Ross Lunn kicked the first of his 5 PATs, knotting the game at 7-7.

Early in the second, a quick turn of events turned that 7-7 game into a 20-7 Mendenhall lead. First, Tony Maye’s apparent catch of a long Davis pass, deep in Mendenhall territory, was ruled out of bounds. Two plays later, McDaniel intercepted a Davis pass and returned it to the Lawrence County 25-yard line. On the very next play, Taboris Walker scored, giving Mendenhall a 14-7 lead.

Next, Ross Lunn’s pooch kick was not handled by the LCHS return team. Mendenhall’s Chance Adams covered it at the Lawrence County 34. Two plays later, Feazell scored on a 28-yard run.

Undaunted by their misfortune, the Cougars did battle back, driving for two first downs, then recovering a mishandled punt at the Mendenhall five-yard line. Marcus Kees recovered the muffed kick, and Gabraun Smith’s run cut the Tiger lead to 20-13 at the half.

Mendenhall’s Julius Craft returned the second half kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown, again opening up a two-touchdown lead for the Tigers. Again, LCHS responded by driving 65 yards, thanks to a T-Tez Cole’s 39-yard run, and Hayden Davis’ 27-yard touchdown pass to Laderrick McCray. The touchdown came on a fourth-and-11 play.

The two teams then exchanged touchdowns again. Feazell gave the Tigers a 34-20 lead with a 12-yard run that came with 3:05 left in the third quarter. Lawrence County answered with another 65-yard scoring drive. Gabraun Smith scored his second TD of the night, this time on an 11-yard run.

Mendenhall largely sealed the game on Feazell’s 10-yard touchdown run with 6:08 remaining on the clock.

Cole led the Cougars in rushing with 71 yards on 14 carries. Laderrick McCray had a big night for Lawrence County. The junior rushed for 37 yards on four carries, and caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Davis rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries, despite being sacked three times. He also passed for 83 yards. Davis left the field via ambulance after taking a sideline hit late in the game, suffering an apparent leg injury.

Lawrence County will open Region 7-4A play against North Pike this Friday.