By Will Johnson
JEWETT – The Lovelady Lions moved their season record to 3-0 following a 20-12 victory over the Leon Cougars in Jewett. The win marks the 16th straight regular season victory for the Lions dating back to October 2014.
The game was physical throughout as the Cougars jumped ahead 6-0 in the first quarter on Blake Lowery’s three yard QB keeper. The Lions came back in the second quarter to capture the lead on Ethan Campbell’s five yard TD run and Devon Hammock’s extra point.
The score remained 7-6, in favor of Lovelady, until midway through the third quarter when Campbell struck for his second touchdown of the game. After Hammock’s PAT, Lovelady led by a score of 14-6.
The Cougars came back to score and cut the lead to six, but when Campbell added a third score in the fourth quarter, it seemingly put the game out of reach. On the extra point attempt, however, the snap was low and the Lions were unable to convert.
Try as they might, the Cougars could not generate any offense late in the game and with time running down in the game the Lions held Leon on a fourth down play to take over possession and run the clock out.
Lovelady AD/Head Coach Jon Lowery commented after the game, “We were very fortunate to get of there with a win. Our kids played hard and our coaches did a great job of getting the right people in the right places at the right times.”
“Where we’ve really been blessed,” he added, “is that we’ve been in some contests with some really physical ball clubs. Anyone who has seen Joaquin or Leon play knows how tough they are up front. For us to get out those two games with wins – and relatively injury free – is a blessing in and of itself.”
Coach Lowery said the Cougars presented a good match-up for the Lions as they prepare to start district play in two weeks and described how the game unfolded. Leon scored the only TD in the first quarter, but the coach added, “Their kicking game isn’t quite where it needs to be yet, so they went for two. They lined up in a swinging gate style of formation, but we held them out on the conversion attempt. We came back down the field to score on Ethan Campbell’s run and hit the extra point. That was it until half time.”
The Lions scored on their opening possession of the second half, but Lowery said Leon “… came right back to make it 14-12. We scored again with about five minutes to go in the game and thought we had the game. We didn’t get a good snap on the extra point so instead of being up 21-12, we were only up by eight and they had a chance to tie it up. We were able to hold them on a fourth down play when they really couldn’t afford to punt and we were able to take a knee and end things. It was a one possession game throughout the entire game. One play here or there and things could have been a lot different.”
Lowery said the Cougars held the Lions to just over 100 yards on the ground between Campbell, Tim Johnson and QB Lee Holsey. “Now throwing the ball, Lee had almost 250 yards. Petey Little had the biggest bulk of that but along with Petey, Hunter Murray also had four catches. Devon Hammock had a couple of big catches, as did Colt Robinson,” he explained.
Lowery stressed, “The receivers all contributed to help get us down there near the goal. Don’t get me wrong, our running backs ran hard all 48 minutes and they were just one step away from breaking one on several occasions, but Leon is so fundamentally sound on defense, they made play after play. As it was, Ethan Campbell had 17 carries on the game and three of those were for touchdowns.”
Questioned about next week’s game against Timpson, the coach said, “It’s going to be like a homecoming game. We’re no stranger to Timpson and of course Coach (Kerry) Therwanger is no stranger to us. We’re expecting quite a match-up.”
Therwanger was the Lions’ head coach from 2003 until 2015 and led Lovelady to two State Semi-Final appearances during his tenure. He took over as the AD/Head Coach at Timpson earlier this year.
“It will be a physical ball game. There’s no doubt about that. Our game with Timpson the last two years has been tough. As a matter of fact, the game against Timpson last year was the closest game we had in the first 10 games we played. It was a good game to prepare us for heading into district last year and that’s what all these non-district games are about. We have had a really good non-district schedule and we know there are some things we need to work on and learn about ourselves. We still have a long way to go. The kids know that and the coaches know that and if we can get it all lined out, then we will be real happy with where we are,” Lowery said.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MIKE WHATLEY
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.