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L-E shows plenty of fight in 41-17 loss to Lexington

Posted: September 29, 2012 1:35 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:00 a.m.

L-E TAILBACK JALEN MCCASKILL rushed for 59 yards in Friday’s loss to Lexington.

Lugoff-Elgin may not have a win, but the Demons do have plenty of heart.
On Friday night, visiting Lexington defeated L-E, 41-17, keeping the Demons winless through the season’s first six games, in the final tune-up before region play.
But there was some good to come out of the loss as the hosts saw their junior quarterback, Shon Belton, pull off a gutsy performance while the team as a whole began to gel by the end of the game. The transition to Region 4-4A play will bring changes for Scott Jones’s troops in more ways than one; more on that later.
In the first half of this game, Lexington flexed its offensive muscles with a couple of quick scores including one in the opening minute.
 A 34-yard pitch-and-catch from quarterback Will Hunter to Ryan McCrary set up Hunter for a 13-yard touchdown run. And just 36 seconds into the contest, Lexington went up 7-0.
The Demon offense struggled early, but the game plan was in place to keep the ball away from opposition’s best player in Chase Austin. Austin came into the game as the Wildcats’ leading tackler, but was, basically, a non-factor on this night.
“We just tried to keep Shon away from him. He’s a Tasmanian devil,” said the L-E boss of his quarterback meeting up with Austin. “I didn’t want Shon to go up against him tonight, because he took enough hits. I purposely was trying to run away from (Austin) most of the night.”
After a few three and outs by L-E, the Wildcats continued to score, jumping out to a 28-0 lead after an 11 yard touchdown pass from Hunter, his second of the night, before L-E got on the board for the first time. A 44-yard touchdown run by Belton erased the goose egg from the scoreboard, capping off a three-play 56-yard drive which chopped the lead to 28-7 with 3:26 left in the half.
Lexington responded with a three-play drive of its own with Hunter throwing yet another scoring pass to Keelo Norris. Hunter would fire four scoring passes on this night.
With the score 35-7, a frustrated Jones still was not ready to quit on his Demons.
“We didn’t do very well in the first half defensively,” he said. “It’s the fundamental stuff that we are not doing right: It’s not the scheme, we just miss tackles, miss assignments in the secondary and little things.
“I felt like in second half, our guys got better. Our coaches did a good job of being calm about it.”
The Demons got a spark from a young player that they are very high on. Jerrelle Hannah intercepted a pass at his own five and returned it all the way inside the Lexington red zone. Jones has been waiting for Hannah to break out.
“We have been waiting on him and for something like that to happen all year. And it’s finally starting to come around a bit,” he said of the senior transfer. “He’s been rusty; he has not played football in a while. I’m just excited for him and our defense as well, they show promise at times.”
The Demons tacked on a field goal, a 40-yarder by Robert Frame, before heading to the locker room trailing, 35-10. 
The Demons made some changes coming out for the second half and limited the high-powered Wildcats to six points and fewer than 100 yards after the break.
Jones later talked about the changes made to counter Lexington.
“Well, we made a decision at halftime; the best 11 are going to play next week,” he said. “We experimented a little bit. We are down to the nitty gritty. . If we lose the games, we lose. But we are going to do it with the best guys out there.
“We've tried to platoon and experiment hoping we would get better. We hate it for some of these guys, but some will be permanently fired after tonight.”
In addition to the change in defense, L-E also dominated the time of possession in the second half, limiting Lexington to just three opportunities with the football; a three-and-out, a touchdown drive capped by a 32-yard Hunter scoring strike, and a short drive which ended in a turnover.
Jones was pleased with the overall effort.
“You know, we are trying to improve,” he said. “I saw some improvement in that (second) half. We are going to continue to fight. Our guys were undersized, and they are fighting.
“We have 140-pound linebackers in there. Guys like Gunnar Branham just gives everything he’s got. Hopefully, these young guys get better as season progresses.”
On offense, the Demons held onto the ball for nearly the entire second half. Unofficially, L-E won the time of possession in the half by a large margin; having it for more than 18 minutes of the clock including the final five. They only scored once, however, and that was off a 10-play, 67-yard drive which Belton finished off with a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
One of the main reasons for the success in the second half was because of the play of Belton. He had a record night and Scott was very complimentary to his young signal caller.
“Thank Mr. Shon Belton,” Jones said. “What’s going to be overshadowed by this game is we got our tails cut, but Shon Belton might have had one of the best performances in Lugoff-Elgin history; 177 yards rushing and what a gutsy performance he had.
“He was a captain tonight as a junior. We normally don’t do that but he’s earned it. He’s a team leader. He has more guts than anybody. And really fights hard.”
For all the work Belton did on offense, he even played a little defense as well, lining up at safety. This is obviously going back to the coach referring to playing the best 11 men on both sides of the ball.
Jones ended his post-game interview with an uplifting message to all his players and the Demon faithful.
“In 27 years of coaching I have never been 0-6 as a coach. I’m not used to it,” he said. “These kids are not used it either. And we are learning how to act. But if you want to talk about class and character, these kids don’t quit and neither do these coaches.
“We are going to continue to fight and find ways to stop people. It would be real easy to throw in the towel and blame kids and point fingers at other people, but I can’t do it because they have great attitudes. Guys are trying hard. I promise you by the end of this season, good things are going to happen for these kids. “
Demon Doings: Lexington had 487 yards of total offense (302 passing and 185 rushing) while Lugoff-Elgin rolled up 303 yards … Belton was the leading stat getter for the Demons rushing for 177 yards on 28 carries and two scores …  Jalen McCaskill had 59 yards on 15 touches … Both teams had 16 first downs and four penalties each. Both sides had a pair of turnovers, as well.


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