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Lawrence County Cougars snatch victory from Sumrall

With undefeated Sumrall (7-1) driving in the fourth quarter for what looked like the game-winning touchdown, Lawrence County (6-2) senior defensive back Tywan McLaurin saw his opportunity and took it. McLaurin ripped the ball away from Sumrall All-American quarterback Dannis Jackson and returned the thievery 83-yards for the go-ahead touchdown in a 28-21 Cougar victory.

“Coach had told me during the week to look for the strip,” said McLaurin. “He noticed that their quarterback was carrying the ball high and not tucking. When I got it away from him there was no way anyone would catch me.”

A huge Cougar homecoming crowd saw two very good 4A teams trading shots all night in a game that was a contrast of offensive styles.

Sumrall struck first when Jackson hit Matthew Cronin on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The Bobcats were set up by a Cougar fumble on the opening kickoff.

Lawrence County quickly responded when junior running back Kylan Cooper dashed 33-yards for a touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 7:50 left in the first quarter.

Jackson put Sumrall back up by using his legs to rush for a 10-yard score late in the first quarter. An Ole Miss commit in baseball and football, the speedy Jackson is an elusive target to bring down. He extends plays with his feet, but also throws a strong ball while on the run.

Lawrence County tied the game in the second quarter by doing something that they rarely do, passing the ball. Quarterback Haden Mullins hit Brian Bogan on a five-yard touchdown pass with 7:24 remaining until halftime.

After a Bobcat punt the Cougars took the lead back on an explosive 78-yard Antwan Pittman run with just over five minutes remaining in the half.

For a team that likes to win with ball control, Lawrence County used big chunks of yardage to go up in the first half.

“You’re not going to tell the guys, don’t try to score,” said Cougar coach Jesse Anderson. “But it is hard sometimes to build your rhythm when the offense isn’t out there for very long.”

The rhythm of the first half was also slowed down by numerous penalties by each team.

Sumrall used a long drive in the third quarter to tie the game up. They capped the drive just two seconds into the fourth quarter when Gabe Cocroft pushed in from the one-yard line.

The resulting Lawrence County drives came up fruitless and with seven minutes remaining, Sumrall gained possession and methodically began to move down the field.

That set up McLaurin to play the part of the hero.

Sumrall wasn’t finished as Jackson moved his team down to the Lawrence County 20-yard line in the final minute of play. The last Bobcat drive would end when Perez Tyler of Lawrence County intercepted Jackson and returned the ball to midfield where the Cougars were able to take a knee and run out the clock.

The win moves Lawrence County to 2-0 in region play as they host Purvis next week for their final home game.

Story by Cliff Furr