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Demons block Mustangs' path to victory

Blocked PATs the difference in 354-34 L-E win

Posted: September 4, 2016 10:30 a.m.
Updated: September 6, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of goflashwin.com/

RAHMEL BURTON RUSHED for 130 yards in Lugoff-Elgin's 35-34 win over Midland Valley on Thursday.

GRANITEVILLE -- Even in a shootout, sometimes a little defense can be the deciding factor in a football game. 

On Thursday night, Lugoff-Elgin finally got a stop on defense in the clutch and escaped with a road victory as they defeated Midland Valley 35-34 in a contest pushed up a day due to the incoming inclement weather that showered the state on Friday.

The change in date and time did not seem to bother either team as both squads put on a show and a downright exciting contest. A back and forth, fast-paced game is not one that L-E is used to being in, or even winning for that matter. Two defensive stands at midfield and two blocked extra points were the small things helped lead to the big result in the end. 

L-E head coach Matt Campbell credited his preaching the importance of special teams for helping on this night. 

“I harp on these kids every day about the importance of special teams and practice is not about resting,” he said after the Demons improved to with their second straight win. “And those blocked extra points were the difference in this game. We had great push up inside when Wyatt (Campbell) blocked one there then, the other one I’m pretty sure was Randall Brown who came in off the edge. 

“Listen, as a coach, you’d like it a lot more lopsided then these here but the kids enjoyed it and so did we.”

The Demons scored on their opening possession of the game at the 6:15 mark with a two-yard run by Jermaine Jenkins only to fall behind, 22-7, in the second quarter. A pair of fumbles and inconsistent blocking up front made one wonder how the Demons would come back from this. Even with a score before halftime, a four-yard scamper from junior quarterback Chandler Price the Demons seemed flat. However, Campbell believed in his kids all along. 

“I just told them guys, ‘we’re flat.’ I believe in you, believe in yourselves. Execute, have fun and play with energy. I’m fine with the outcome as long as you give everything you got,” said the second-year demon boss, “and we came back and scored before halftime. During halftime, I was sitting there smiling at them. I told them I’m smiling because I’m confident we can win this game.” 

Just a year removed from a state championship appearance in 3A, Midland Valley only returns three of 22 starters but the Mustangs still have plenty of athletes. One of those is signal caller signal caller D.J. Boyd. The crafty quarterback carried the load, throwing for 288 yards including an 81-yard touchdown where he ran around extending the play on his feet to find an open man. “He’s such a great athlete,” Campbell said of Boyd. “Watching him on film, I knew he could move around and make plays. He buys himself time and gets enough momentum moving forward where next thing you know, there’s a guy wide open down field and now we have to make a tackle. 

“When we go back and look at the film from the second half, I bet all those big plays came after we pressured him and got him outside the pocket. It’s not like he dropped back and beat us. He got us with his feet and us kind of losing our technique and falling off of guys.”

The Demon defense still got the better of Boyd and the opposition intercepting two passes on the night. One came from Cameron Payne while the other proved more crucial from Tyshon Felder who made a leaping grab and came down with the ball at his own one.

“I don’t care how we stop them,” Campbell said. “Whether it’s three and out, make them punt or turnovers fumbles and picks. You have different people on this team coming up and making plays. 

“You got Adam Rowson, who’s our leader, but then you got Tyshon Felder, who most people have never really heard much of yet. And then last week it was Elijah Manigo making a play and now this week it’s Cameron Payne. You got different people showing up. They’re starting grow and gain momentum. “

From Felder’s interception, Price drove the Demon offense 99 yards in 11 plays and capped it off himself from 24 yards out on a bootleg which was set up by some nice blocking down the near side. With a two-point conversion executed nicely connecting Price with tailback Rahmel Burton in the corner the game was tied 22-22 with 6:14 left the third quarter. 

The Demons are not at all sneaky in their approach; they ground and pound. Thursday, they received a big-time performance from Burton, a senior, who rushed 30 times for 130 yards. 

“It was just put it on our backs and our line and just pound it you know,” Campbell said of his team’s offensive philosophy. “We got some nice plays when our quarterback ran it. It wasn’t anything tricky tonight we were just going to run it at you. We went back to our basics and our guys executed well. There were some times where we had to overcome some penalties but we just have to keep working.”

The Demons showed a lot of heart and fight in the second half with much of that coming from Rowson, their vocal leader at linebacker, who played another spirited game eclipsing 30 tackles in three games so far this season. 

“Unbelievable. He was all over the place. I’m so proud of Adam,” Campbell said. “This kid didn’t get to play very much last year; he missed a big portion of the season. But this year, he’s playing so hard and is our emotional leader and does everything we want him to do. I can’t say enough about him. “

Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter including a nine-yard touchdown run by Burton before MV re-took and later gave  up the lead with a one-yard Boyd keeper and a 13-yard Tyreese Washington run, all the while having an extra point blocked following Washington’s run making it 35-28 after Washington’s scoring run. 

Outside of the blocked extra points, the biggest sequence came in the final three minutes. 

With the game tied at 28, the Demons pinned the Mustangs at their own one and forced a three and out. Being rewarded great field position at the MV 21, Price did the honors, running it in for his third touchdown of the night from two yards behind the center. The go-ahead touchdown came with 2:33 left in the game and was followed by Evan Freier’s game-clinching PAT kick.

The Demons then held strong on two straight possessions to close out the game including two tackles for loss by Ahmad Bryant and Rowson. 

“The defense did a great job up there finishing up the game,” Campbell said. “We were a little slow starting the game but they did what they were supposed to do. 

“Coming out of the (first) half, I knew Midland Valley was going to move the ball. I told them, ‘Guys, next time you stop them, we will go out and tie this football game. They made the stop and we drove down, scored and got the two-point conversion (on the Price-to-Burton pass.) It was just a back and forth battle at that point.” 

This was a benchmark win for Campbell and his “Dirty 30” group of players which recognizes the size of roster L-E has this season. It marked the first time since 2010 in which the Demons have won two in a row and since 2009 that the Demons have been 2-1. It is also the first road win for the second-year coach who stands proud of his group and is looking forward to the rest of the season. 

“I’m proud of them. I love them” he said. “They just continue to amaze me. We grow as a team and a program. The kids and assistant coaches here … I’m just lucky and blessed to be with them.”

 

Demon Doings: Unofficially, L-E posted 315 yards on the ground getting 130 from Burton who also caught a few balls for 13 yards including one that moved the chains … Jenkins remains a nice complement to Burton as he ran 13 times for 84 yards and a score … Price only completed six passes for 52 yards but three went for first downs and another was a crucial two-point conversion. He also rushed for three touchdowns on the night and had some nice runs in the first half to keep several drives alive … Boyd was 15 of 23 for 288 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. 


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