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Lamar County dominates Jefferson in 2nd half, wins 35-24

POSTED: November 29, 2013 11:07 p.m.

BARNESVILLE — Despite being in unfamiliar territory on Friday against Jefferson, Lamar County didn’t panic.

Behind for the first time at halftime all season, the unbeaten Trojans simply stuck with what had powered them to the GHSA Class AA quarterfinals: a potent running attack and strong defense.

Lamar County dominated the second half, snatching the game’s momentum and controlling the game’s tempo on the way to a 35-24 win to return to the semifinals where it’ll face Benedictine. Home field will be determined by a coin toss.

“Everybody just kept calm,” Lamar County quarterback Lance Austin said. “We played as a team and came out and executed. It was a great win.”

The Trojans (13-0) trailed 17-14 at the break before outscoring the Dragons (11-3) 21-7 in the second half with the lone Jefferson score coming on a long touchdown pass from Evan Shirreffs to Dalton Hill.

Other than that, Lamar County took over defensively following a first half in which the Trojans were outgained 185 to 117 in total yards. In the second half, the Dragons were held to 134 yards, 80 of those coming on one pass play.
Lamar County, meanwhile, churned up 220 second-half yards.

“We told them we were not going to panic, it was not a panic situation. We just had to go out defensively and figure out how to stop them,” Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens said. “They were just nickel and diming us with what they had been doing all year. It was nothing we hadn’t seen, we just had to figure out how to stop them.”

Behind 17-14, the Trojans fortunes stumbled to begin the third quarter after its first offensive drive stalled and the Dragons began to drive toward midfield. Jefferson fullback Tristen Jackson fumbled at the 27-yard line, and Lamar County’s Ray Lyons recovered the loose ball.

“You can’t turn the ball over and give them a short field and allow them to score,” Jefferson head coach Ben Hall said.

Two plays later, quarterback Lance Austin found an open Quay Searcy in the end zone, and the Trojans led 21-17 with 4:57 to play in the third quarter.

“We needed a spark, and all of a sudden, there’s the ball on the ground,” Stephens said. “Offensively, it was a the spark we needed.”

From there, Lamar County was in firm control, gaining first down after first down to eat time off of the clock and force Jefferson into longer yardage situations, putting the Dragons in a difficult offensive position.

“We owned the third quarter,” Stephens said. “The defense stood up (Friday) and showed what this program is all about.”

Momentum in hand, Lamar County put the game away in the fourth quarter, capping drives with an 8-yard touchdown run by Lance Austin and 39-yard by Lawrence Austin that placed the Trojans ahead 35-17 with 5:16 to play, forcing the Dragons to abandon the run.

Lance Austin rushed for 81 yards on 14 carries while Lawrence Austin had 148 yards on 19 carries.

“They used their athletes and got their athletes some space,” Hall said. “We knew going in that we were going to play just about a perfect ball game.”

The Dragons controlled the ball in the first half, running 48 offensive plays to the Trojans 15. That plowed the way for Dragons, who showcased a power-running attack of its own with two touchdowns and a field goal on four of its drives.

An Austin Pankevich field goal cut an early Lamar County lead to 7-3, and Hill hailed in a pass from Shirreffs to answer Lamar’s second touchdown of the game, an 18-yard run by Lance Austin.

Lamar County had earlier drawn first blood when Quay Searcy ran back a Shirreffs pass 46 yards for a 7-0 lead on the first Jefferson drive of the game.

Trailing 14-10, Jefferson drove downfield again, getting into the end zone on a 2-yard plunge by Isaiah Blake on a drive kept alive by a personal foul against the Trojans. Blake rushed 23 times for 118 yards with Jackson carrying the ball 21 times for 108 yards.


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