LCHS Cougars overwhelm South Pike

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, October 20, 2013

MAGNOLIA-T-Tez Cole rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns, and Lawrence County’s defense held South Pike to negative yardage in the second half as the LCHS Cougars defeated South Pike 31-12 in Region 7-4A high school football action Friday night.

Lawrence County overcame a 12-7 first half deficit by scoring the final 24 points of the game, and snapped a four-game losing streak. The Cougars, who started the season by winning three of their first four games, improved to 4-5 on the season, and 1-2 in region play. For South Pike, it was the Eagles’ seventh straight loss after a season-opening win.

“I was proud our guys were able to enjoy some success,” said first-year Cougar coach Herbert Davis, who took over a program that managed just one win last fall. “I felt like our guys really gave it a great fight the last three weeks, but the scoreboard really didn’t show it. Tonight, they can ride the bus home happy.”

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Davis’ Cougars were statistically dominant, out gaining the Eagles 345 to 114. The second half was even more lopsided, as South Pike ran 14 plays for a negative five yards. South Pike did not pick up a single first down after the intermission, as Lawrence County broke open what had been a tight game.

“I was proud of the way our players went out and executed the adjustments we made at halftime,” Coach Davis said. “We didn’t play all that well in the first half, but I thought we controlled the second half.”

Lawrence County opened the game with a nine-play touchdown drive, with Cole going the final five yards. Josh Stephens kicked the first of four extra points to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

That lead didn’t last. After an exchange of punts, South Pike’s Jaxavian Holmes sprinted 29 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Cougars’ margin to 7-6.

Just three plays after that, on the first play of the second quarter, LCHS quarterback Will Jackson was sacked and fumbled at the Lawrence County 35-yard line. South Pike’s Chris Hampton scooped the football up and dashed 35 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles led 12-7.

Lawrence County battled back with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 25-yard Josh Stephens field goal. The key play in the drive was a 17-yard Jackson-to-Cedric Rhodes pass that converted a third-and-17 situation. Stephens’ kick made it a 12-10 game.

With just 30 seconds left in the half, the Cougars stopped South Pike on downs at the LCHS 30-yard line. After Gabraun Smith tallied 19 yards on two rushing plays, the Cougars decided to go for points in the waning moments of the half.

First, Jackson completed a 41-yard pass to Tony Maye, to the South Pike 20. A facemask penalty pushed the football to the 10-yard line. From there, Jackson and Maye connected again, in the rear of the end zone, to give Lawrence County a 17-12 halftime lead.

With the LCHS defense totally thwarting South Pike in the second half, the Cougar offense put together two 60-yard scoring drives to seal the game. Cole and Gabraun Smith shared the load on those drives. On the first, Smith’s 21-yard pass reception set up Cole’s 12-yard touchdown run. The final score came with just over six minutes left in the game, on Cole’s three-yard run.

Smith rushed for 94 yards on 15 carries. Tony Maye had three catches for 62 yards. Jackson completed five of nine passes for 100 yards. Jaxavian Holmes led South Pike with 69 yards on 18 carries.

At one point in the first half, Holmes actually had 104 rushing yards, but suffered 35 yards in losses after that.

This Friday, Lawrence County will travel to Columbia. South Pike will play at Purvis.