Lawrence defeats McComb to lead region race

Published 10:55 pm Saturday, October 10, 2015

MONTICELLO – The Lawrence County Cougars defeated the McComb Tigers 28-19 in Division 7-4A football action Friday night at LCHS. Quitten Brown scored two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown to lead the Cougars on a wet, sloppy night in Monticello.

With the win, Jaymie Palmer’s Cougars improved to 7-1 overall, and 2-0 in Division 7-4A play. McComb, coached by Malcolm Jones, fell to 5-2 overall, and 1-1 in the division. Already holding a win over North Pike, the victory over McComb puts Lawrence County firmly in the driver’s seat in the division race.

“I’m very proud of our kids,” said Palmer, who is in his second year at his alma mater. “They gave it a tremendous fight against a big, strong, fast McComb team. It was a tough game against a great opponent, in very tough conditions. This was some night.”

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Late in the first quarter, with Lawrence County leading 7-0, a heavy downpour drenched the field and everyone in attendance. The rain lasted throughout the remainder of the first half, making for sloppy ball-handling conditions. Even after the rain subsided, the field remained wet and slippery.

Quitten Brown was again one of the big stories of the game. The dynamic junior rushed 28 times for 109 yards, and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass. Brown even blocked a McComb punt. Brown’s three touchdowns gave him an incredible 24 touchdowns in Lawrence County’s eight games. He also went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season.

After an exchange of punts to start the game, Brown put the Cougars on top with a five-yard touchdown run with 4:39 left in the first quarter. T-Tez Cole had pass receptions of 23 and 16 yards to set up the score. LCHS had three straight extra point attempts blocked, two of them by McComb nose tackle Lucky Davis. The Cougars led 6-0.

After another exchange of punts, and just after the heavy rains started falling, McComb knotted the game at 6-6 on a five-yard run by Tiger quarterback Venchenza McCray. Daquan Smith ran for 61 yards on the previous play to get the Tigers down close.

Lawrence County responded with a six-play, 51-yard drive. The final 30 yards came on a Charl’Tez Nunnery-to-Cole 30-yard touchdown pass. The Cougars led 12-6 and would hold that lead until halftime.

Lawrence County did have another major threat before the half, but was unable to capitalize. With 1:27 left in the half, Quitten Brown broke through to block a McComb punt. The football came to a rest at the McComb three-yard line. Multiple Cougars had a chance to pick up the ball and waltz into the end zone. Instead, the Cougars knocked it out of bounds at the McComb 3. On the very next play, a fumbled snap exchange was recovered by McComb’s Lucky Davis.

“I’m glad that didn’t come back to bite us,” said Palmer of the missed opportunity. “We created a touchdown, and didn’t take it. We can’t afford to give away points like that, but we were fortunate to get away with it tonight.”

Both teams gave it a great fight defensively. Lawrence County was led by inside linebackers Azar Myles and T-Tez Cole. Myles had 13 tackles and Cole added 11. They combined for five tackles for losses. Brandon Armstrong recovered a fumble, and Mark Rhodes iced the game with a late pass interception.

McComb’s offense was buoyed by defensive linemen Kaderrion Mason and Lucky Davis. They made the going tough for Lawrence County’s potent run game. Davis and Dequarius Bonds recovered LCHS fumbles.

Lawrence County got two gift points to start the second half, when McComb mishandled the kickoff and eventually recovered in the Tiger end zone. It was 14-6.

After that, four straight possessions ended either in punts or the ball going over on downs. Finally, with 2:38 left in the third quarter, Brown took a short pass from Charl’Tez Nunnery and broke through the McComb defense for 44 yards and a touchdown. Lawrence County led 20-6.

It was another solid night for Nunnery, the Cougars’ junior quarterback. He completed 9-of-15 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Nunnery also rushed for 34 yards on 10 carries.

Late in the third quarter, McComb tightened the game with Venchenza McCray’s 10-yard touchdown run. Gerardo Soto kicked the PAT, cutting Lawrence County’s lead to 20-13.

With their lead threatened, the Cougars responded with a masterful six-play drive. Nunnery’s 22-yard pass to Marcus Kees set up Brown’s 15-yard touchdown run. Gage Daley then passed to Cole on a surprise two-point play, giving LCHS a 28-13 lead.

A Brown fumble set up McComb’s final score, a 21-yard touchdown pass from McCray to Daquan Smith. However, the LCHS defense stuffed McCray on a two-point attempt, preserving the Cougars’ two-score lead, at 28-19. The Tigers’ final threat ended when Lawrence County cornerback Mark Rhodes picked off a McCray pass at the goal line with one minute left on the clock.

This Friday, Lawrence County will try to remain undefeated in division play, at South Pike. McComb will travel to Florence.