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Quick-starting Yellow Jackets hold off Demons, 39-21

Posted: August 25, 2012 12:42 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2012 5:00 a.m.

FORT MILL -- There is no mulligan in football, not even a reset button.
Lugoff-Elgin probably wished they could re-start the season in another way because the outcome Friday night left a sour taste in its mouth. A first half of miscues and mistakes led Fort Mill over the visiting Demons in Friday’s season opener, 39-21.
L-E was plagued by turnovers, miscues and mistakes, all in the first half, which gave the hosts all the opportunities they needed to pull away in this one. There were many bright spots however, as the Demons showed flashes of how good they could be for the future.
L-E head coach Scott Jones mentioned the mistakes early in his first statement after the game.
“You have to hold onto the football; you can’t turn it over and give people short fields,” he said. “And I guess that was the story in the first half. We have a lot of work to do, there is just no way around it. We have some young pups out there trying to learn the game. Hopefully, we can take the positives and move on.”
The game started with FM taking the football and testing the L-E defense, keeping the ball for nearly nine minutes of the opening quarter. The Yellow Jackets capped off the 15-play, 64-yard drive with a five-yard Tony Godbolt run. After a botched extra point, the hosts had a 6-0 lead.
After an L-E punt, the Jackets kept the momentum going with a 70-yard scoring strike from Rylan Wells-to-Josh Lafoe, who was wide open down the middle of the field for another touchdown.
 “I was disappointed in our secondary play,” Jones said. “We are not breaking on the ball like we should or making plays. We had been doing that in our scrimmages and up to this point but not tonight.
“We feel very good about (our secondary), they are just going to have to work to get better.”
After that, the wheels started to come loose for the visiting Demons. A tipped pass turned into an interception for the hosts which put them on the Demons’ one, leading to an easy score. A few minutes later, a shanked punt by led to an FM 31-yard scoring drive in seven plays. And just like that as the second quarter was starting, the Jackets jumped on top, 25-0.
Jones later talked about his team’s early mistakes
”When you give that offense a short field to work with,” he said, “whether it was the short punt or, the interception, bad things can happen. You can’t give a team like Fort Mill opportunities like that. We just got behind too far early.”
FM runs a very complicated offense and gave the Demons, at least, five different formations and variations of the spread, using the pistol and multiple wide out sets. But the Jackets were able to use a balanced attack to keep the L-E defense on its heels. What helped this offense do damage is a strong line: All seniors and a few 300-pounders including a Division I prospect in Cooper Clegg.
For a rebuilt L-E offensive line, there is talent there, but Jones and company are trying to find what works. A few injuries have hindered that position.
“We had to shift people around as late as Tuesday and when you do that there is just no continuity,” Jones said. “We are trying to run a no-huddle scheme and you could have a guy in there that is not sure what to do. It was noticeable at times. After that first half, those guys settled down and we put in some good drives.”
The Demons would respond with an 80-yard march in 15 plays led by junior quarterback Shon Belton. The second-year starter did it mostly on the ground keeping it on read option plays or draw plays. Belton ran it in from five yards out to make it 25-7 with 5:20 left in the half.
That was just enough time for the opponents to put something together. But with no timeouts at their disposal that would be tough. Making it down to the L-E 10, the drive stalled and on fourth down the field goal attempt failed. So the momentum seemed to shift in the way of L-E.
 “I think we had a good goal line stand at the end of the first half and I thought that was pretty good,” Jones said. “I thought we could have some momentum with some confidence and have things go our way in the second half but we just didn’t do it.”
In the second half, it was as if Fort Mill was shot out of a cannon. Taking advantage of quick three and outs and great field position, the Jackets scored on their first two offensive possessions, both on the ground, including a 22-yard scamper up the middle by Godbolt. And as the third quarter came to a close, the ballgame was all but over at 39-7.
L-E would then put together two time-sustaining scoring drives which pleased Jones.
The Demons showing flashes of how good this spread offense can be as rhythm of the offensive lineman started to show as did the leadership of Belton. Senior tailback Jalen McCaskill had some good running as well as the Demons had touchdown drives of 78 and 54 yards to round out the scoring. Belton capped the first drive with a two-yard run while McCaskill did the honors on the second, going over from the four for the touchdown.
“Shon led us on some good drives there and Jalen McCaskill came in and did some good things,” Jones said. “We got tired. It was humid and some of our guys were going both ways, but we ran the ball pretty effectively there in the second half. Hakeem Young and Chris McManus came in there and made some plays. Evan O’Brian fought hard and played well, too.”
The result may have been disappointing but Jones still seemed confident that changes can be made and there is  potential on his team. It all starts with its mental stability.
“I’m proud of our guys, we gave a lot of effort,” he said. “I did see improvement though and the one thing I didn’t see was quit. They didn’t show any quit or bad attitudes. They actually had great attitudes. The only thing we can do is try to get better and work at it. And just try to stay positive with our kids.”
 
Demon Doings: Fort Mill had a balanced offensive attack, gaining 312 yards with 157 on the ground and 155 through the air … Wells was 8-12 for 157 passing while carrying it eight times for 37 yards … L-E had 276 yards of offense … Belton had 20 carries for 128 yards and two scores while McCaskill had 71 yards on 10 touches and a touchdown … L-E led in first downs 16-14. FM was flagged six times for 30 yards and L-E four times for 20 … Illichris Gordon led L-E with nine tackles.

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