Lovelady Defense Holds West Hardin to 32 Total Yards of Offense
By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – On Friday, Nov. 3 the Lovelady Lions welcomed the West Hardin Oilers to town for a District 12-AA DI matchup and by the time the game was over, the Oilers were probably regretting their trip to Houston County as the Lovelady thumped West Hardin by a final of 64-0.
Aside from Lovelady’s first and last possessions of the game, West Sabine was unable to contain the Lions’ offense. Defensively, Lovelady ratcheted up its play to “Beast Mode” and held the Oilers to less than 35 yards of total offense for the entire game.
It was Senior Night in Lovelady as the entire Class of 2018 was recognized in a pregame ceremony. After the soon-to-be graduates were recognized, the Lions and Oilers got down to the business at hand.
West Hardin won the coin toss and deferred until the second half. That meant Lovelady opened the game on offense. Things didn’t look promising, initially, as the Lions were forced into a three and out situation.
On the punt, however, Lovelady’s Jay Thomas Robinson boomed a kick that was downed at the Oilers’ one yard line.
Things went downhill from there for West Hardin. The Oilers were able to gain a yard on first down, but two incompletions from Oiler QB Cody Brown led to a punting situation from under the shadow of their own goal posts.
On the kick, Oilers punter Jay Hughes bobbled the snap. The mishandled ball forced him to rush his kick and with limited space to work with, his kick glanced off the buttocks of a West Hardin lineman and only made it to the 13-yard line.
It only took the Lions three plays to cover the distance as Timothy Johnson bulled his way into the end zone for the first score of the game at the 9:04 mark of the first quarter. Alex McKnight added the two point conversion to give the Lions an early 8-0 lead.
West Hardin’s next possession saw the Oilers lose three yards and then punt. The Lions took over at their own 35 and on the next play from scrimmage, Johnson broke free up the middle for a 35-yard scoring romp. Big DaMario Mattingly blasted his way into the end zone and with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter Lovelady had opened up a 16-0 lead.
After the kickoff, the Oilers only managed to go two and out as Brown was intercepted by Lovelady’s Deontrae Hawkins at the West Hardin 47.
The Lions moved inside the Oilers’ red zone and were aided by an offsides penalty which moved the ball to the 12. From there, Greyson Bachynsky did the rest of the work as he slipped across the goal line from 12 yards out with 4:11 left in the first. McKnight moved under center on the try for two and connected with Michael Price to make the score 24-0.
While the Oilers couldn’t seem to stop the Lions – on Lovelady’s next possession – the Lions stopped themselves. Lovelady drove inside the West Hardin 20-yard line – once again – but penalties and poor execution forced the Lions to turn the ball over on downs.
The defensive stand seemed to ignite a small fire under the Oilers as they picked up their initial first down at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter. West Hardin picked up a second first down, but as their drive continued, the Lions defense led by Carter Murray and McKnight sacked Brown for a 10-yard loss and forced yet another punt.
Lovelady took possession on their own 34 and behind the running of Lions’ QB Colt Robinson along with his backfield partner Timothy Johnson, Lovelady quickly moved deep into West Hardin territory. The Lions moved down to the 15 where McKnight found a seam in the Oiler defense and hit pay dirt in the end zone with 2:06 left in the half. Johnson added the two point conversion to increase the lead to 32-0.
On the ensuing kick, West Hardin took possession at their own 40. Two incompletions and a fumble on a Lovelady sack, however, gave the ball right back to the Lions. A holding penalty on Lovelady pushed the ball back to the 45 but on the next play, Colt Robinson found Jay Thomas Robinson for a 45 yard scoring strike. Johnson converted the try for two which closed out the point production in the first half with the Lions ahead by a score of 40-0.
By the end of the first half, the Oilers had racked up a total of -4 yards of offense against the stout Lion defense.
The second half didn’t get any easier for West Hardin. Their first possession of the third quarter ended with another three and out.
The Lions took over at their own 44 and promptly committed two illegal procedure penalties. A 41-yard gain from Johnson got the Lions out of a first and 30 hole and moved the ball to the Oilers’ 25. A third illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 33, but Bachynsky picked up 28 yards on the next play to set the Lions up at the five-yard line. From there, Mattingly moved into the backfield as he did his best impersonation of William “the Refrigerator” Perry and bulldozed his way into the end zone for a touchdown. Johnson added the two point conversion and with 7:49 left to play in third, the Lions had opened up a 48-0 lead.
On Lovelady’s next possession, McKnight broke free for a 41 yard scoring run while Bachynsky added the two point conversion to bring the score to 56-0. A late pick six off of Brown by Lovelady’s Logan LeBlanc along with the two point conversion from Logan Lowery closed out the scoring and gave the Lions the 64-0 win.
The victory gives the Lions sole possession of first place in District 12-AA DI after the Groveton Indians lost to the Centerville Tigers by a final of 41-40. Lovelady will travel to Groveton next Friday, Nov. 10 to take on the Indians for the district title. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.