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Banged-up Demons upended by Knights, 30-0

Posted: October 22, 2011 11:40 a.m.
Updated: October 24, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Halftime turned into work time for Lugoff-Elgin.

With his team trailing visiting West Florence, 16-0, and with an already lengthy injury list growing by the minute, L-E head football coach Scott Jones used the extended intermission of Friday’s homecoming game to hold an impromptu, in-game walk-through.

In the end, a battered group of Demons came out on the short end of a 30-0 loss to the Knights in a Region 6-4A contest.

Once again, L-E (2-7, 0-3) sustained losses to personnel as starting quarterback Shon Belton left the game early in the second quarter when he injured a hip while playing defense. Soon thereafter, wingback/safety/return man Josh Ruiz headed to the locker room with an injury to his right leg. He watched the rest of the game while being aided by crutches.

"We went into the gym at halftime, trying to get our guys lined up correctly in the positions that they were going to be asked to play in the second half," Jones said. "We had guys out there in the second half that played in our jayvee game last night.

"(The injury situation at L-E) is the most incredible thing that I’ve ever been involved with in all my years of coaching."

Playing with a makeshift lineup, which was already without leading rusher Malik Young (high ankle sprain), the Demon offense managed a more-the-respectable 156 yards with 88 of those coming thanks to the legs of fullback Zach Connell, who got the call on 18 occasions against a stingy and athletic Knights’ (6-3, 3-0) defense.

"They’re pretty good," Jones said of the WF defensive unit. "But we are just short-handed, right now. We’re just trying to figure out what we need to do next."

A patched-together L-E defense had a pair of impressive goal line stands with the guests coming away with three points on those two series after having the ball at the Demons’ six yard line on both occasions.

"Our defense played about as well as we could play," Jones said. "We were outmanned and outweighed by a huge offensive line tonight, but our guys fought as hard as they could fight."

The Knights scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on their first possession which started from their own 43 following a Chris Platenberg punt on the night’s first series.

A 16-yard Christian Manning run on the double reverse set the ball at the L-E 41. Staying solely on the ground, WF used a 15-yard run from Jalin Dixon to the five which set up a five-yard scoring run from Darius Charles for a quick, 7-0 lead with 8:06 left in the first quarter.

A lost fumble on first down of the second L-E series set the visitors up at the Demons’ 22. After getting a first and goal from the eight, WF managed just two yards on three snaps as Alex Spence was called on to boot a 23-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead at the 5:16 mark of the first stanza.

While the L-E defense made just three forays into enemy territory, the Demon defense was aided by the punting of Platenberg. The senior averaged better than 37 yards on six punts including three inside with WF 10 with one being downed at the one by a hustling Connell.

The third Platenberg punt of the first half gave the guests a first down at their own 34 with 9:56 left in the second quarter. WF opened the drive with freshman quarterback Marquane Goodman running for 13 yards on a first down carry before spotting Akeem Bostick with a 12-yard completion to the L-E 46 on the next play.

Facing a fourth and two from the 29, Goodman hit DaQuain Jones with an eight-yard pass. Two plays later, Bostick took a swing pass from Goodman and dragged a pair of Demons into the end zone with him for a 16-0 lead with 7:03 showing on the clock. A fake PAT pass, out of the bucket formation, went incomplete as the spread remained at 16 points.

One play prior to the scoring pass, Belton was injured in making a play on a WF pass in the end zone. That led to Dalton Simons, who opened the season at quarterback for the Demons, taking over the offense from that point.

For Simons, it meant moving to quarterback after having started the game at wide receiver. It also led to the Demons’ offensive staff having to make changes to the game play, on the fly, due to the switch at quarterback.

With Ruiz also on the mend, Connell became the focus of the offense and he delivered on the Demons’ fifth possession of the night. A Simons carry for eight yards left the hosts looking at a fourth and one from their own 44. Connell got that yard, plus one with a two-yard plunge. The Demons would get to the WF 38 after the guests were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. A two-yard Connell run would get the ball to the 34, but when Simons was thrown for a loss of six on third down, Platenberg was called on again and his 30-yard punt rolled out of bounds at the 10 with 2:32 left in a first half which closed with the guests pitching a 16-0 shutout.

The Knights looked to have something going to start the second half. A 30-yard Dwayne Gunn kickoff return gave WF a starting point from its own 39. A 50-yard Goodman-to-Dixon gainer on a screen pass set the ball at the L-E seven. Again, the Demons defense dug in and forced another Spence field goal attempt. This one, however, sailed wide right from 23 yards out.

L-E moved 25 yards on its first second half series thanks to a 13-yard Javone Byrd carry and another of the same length from Simons on second and nine from the 34. Again, though, the drive was bogged down as Platenberg was again called on with his 40-yard punt giving the Knights a starting point from their eight.

A 16-yard Charles carry got the Knights in gear and out of their hole. On third and six from the 33, Goodman hooked up with Drew Patterson on a 13-yard swing pass for a first down at the 47. A 22-yard Charles carry to the L-E 27 was followed up, a play later, by a scoring run from that point by Dixon, who cut to his right before going against the grain to the middle of the field and finding daylight and the end zone for a 23-0 advantage with 4:48 left in the third.

The first break of the night for the Demons came when a Platenberg punt hit a WF blocker as L-E’s Rene Cervantes came up with the fumble at his own 43. L-E picked up a first down at the WF 47 after runs of nine and two yards by Markus Kershaw. A procedure call stunted things, as it went from a second and four from the 41 to second and nine from the 46.

An eight-run Connell run set up a fourth and one from the 38, only to have the WF defense snuff the play out and give the ball to its offense at their own 39.

Nine plays later, in a 61-yard march highlighted by a 16-yard Goodman to Patterson pass to the L-E 16, the Knights capped the scoring with a seven-yard sweep around left end from Garrett Chapman for a 30-0 lead with 8:55 left.

The Demons made one last threat when it took over at its own 20 on the ensuing kickoff.

Simons got things going with consecutive runs of eight and five yards for the first down. On third and four from the 40, Connell ran over people for 16 yards to the WF 44. He then went on an 11-yard romp to the 33, only to have a personal foul call at the end of the play set the ball back at the 44.

Connell kept on plugging away, breaking loose for 15 yards on a fourth and three from the 40. But the Demons’ try on fourth and six from the WF 21 --- the hosts’ deepest penetration of the evening --- was turned back with 19 ticks left in the game clock.

On an evening in which the injured Demons varsity performers nearly equaled those healthy enough to play, Jones talked with pride about his team which was battling tough odds against the Region 6 leaders.

"I don’t want to make excuses," Jones said, "but we’re almost down to nothing. But we have a good football team. All our guys fought hard and I’m proud of them for doing that."

The loss all but ended the Demons’ playoff hopes with two games left. With losses, especially on the offensive side of the ball, mounting at an alarming rate, Jones admitted that he and his offensive coaches might be left to scare up some new offensive scheme for Friday’s game at South Florence.

"This is not as fun as we would like it to be," he said of his team’s current situation. "Maybe, we might be in the pole cat (offense) against South Florence, who knows.

"We have so many guys who are just banged up. But they are all still coming out and playing hard. Bless their hearts is about all that I can say about it."


Demon Doings:

In his abbreviated stint at quarterback, Belton completed all three of his passes for 39 yards, including a 22-yard hook-up with Derrick Miller on the first play of the game … Simons had 26 yards on 11 carries for an L-E offense which ran for 147 yards on 46 carries … WF, led by 97 yards from Dixon, piled up 235 yards on the ground on 44 carries … Goodman, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound freshman quarterback completed 10 of his 19 passes for 157 yards while rushing for another 32 on 10 hauls … On a cool evening in which emotions sometimes ran hot, the Demons were called for 17 penalties for 94 yards while the Knights were whistled eight times resulting in 42 yards in infractions.

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