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Six turnovers come back to haunt L-E in 45-20 loss

Posted: August 28, 2017 3:39 p.m.
Updated: August 29, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of goflashwin.com/

LUGOFF-ELGIN DEFENDERS Tyshon Felder (27), Caiman Welch (50), Cameron Payne (41) and Talik Hodge (8) combine to bring down River Bluff tailback Antonio Gantt following a short gain in action from Friday’s game in Lexington.

LEXINGTON -- Execution and protecting the football. It may sound like a cliche` phrase to fans who watch and love sports but it’s the backbone of a successful team. 

Lugoff-Elgin was unable to execute on either side of the ball nor protect the football as they took one on the chin Friday night in Lexington as host River Bluff forced six turnovers and pulled away from the Demons, 45-20. 

It was the first win for new Gators’ head coach Blair Hardin, who came to Lexington following a successful three-year stint at North Myrtle Beach. As for the losing coach, Matt Campbell, the third-year Demons’ boss was adamant about his philosophy and why his team lost this contest. 

“We say it every week,” he said, “you have to protect the football and execute. We didn’t do either of those tonight. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’m disgusted with myself. I don’t know if it was a hangover from last week with the emotional game (with Camden) but it’s my fault. I didn’t have them prepared mentally or physically. We will be prepared (this) week.”

River Bluff jumped to an early 14-0 lead. The first score came off a punt return for a touchdown going 45 yards and then after a Gator interception, they struck again with a 17-yard touchdown run from quarterback Brayden Walker. 

The hosts employed a triple option attack and were disciplined in their running game. Even more impressive was Walker, a sophomore quarterback who rushed for 125 yards and a couple of touchdowns. 

L-E would get on the board with 4:29 left in the first quarter with a two-yard run by sophomore Jasper Tucker capping an eight-play drive. The touchdown came off a Gator fumble which gave the visitors a short field. There were few highlights in this one, however, as L-E continued to turn the ball over. 

 The Demons had four turnovers in the first half alone and were extremely fortunate to only be down by a one score, 14-7, at the break. 

“Again, it was an all around poor effort tonight,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to explain right now. I’ve got so many pictures of the game running through my mind. We were fortunate to have it be 14-7 at halftime. We could have been down four or five scores then. 

“I was hoping for a turn at halftime but it never came. We started off good on defense but gave up big runs. “

The Demons did have cracks at the red zone in that first half including a missed 28-yard field goal and a touchdown which was called back on a holding penalty. L-E had a pair of touchdowns which were negated due to flags on this night. 

Campbell, however, was not making excuses for the calls. “There were several penalties I wasn’t sure about but you’re gonna’ have those every week,” he said. 

“It seems like every drive we moved the ball well, then we had something happen. It slowed us down and stopped us but we can fix that. And we have to eliminate all that. That’s the little details you can fix as a team. You just go out and execute and protect the ball, period.”

The third quarter was dominated by River Bluff as the home team held on to the ball a majority of the stanza keeping the Demon defense on the field. The Gators scored three times in the quarter including the opening drive as Walker  scampered 10 yards for a score which finished off a quick five-play, 62-yard march. 

The Demons would respond with a big pass play as Chandler Price connected with Gatlin Lawson for a 60-yard scoring hookup to make it 21-13 with 8:52 left in the third quarter.

That would be the closest the Demons would get in this contest. 

The Gators extended their lead back to 13 with a seven-yard run up the middle by tailback Jalen Weston which made it 28-13 late in the third. 

Campbell later said he knows this wasn’t like his defense that he saw in spring and summer. 

“The problem is that if you have them wrapped up at times, then that means there’s other times that you don’t. Those are the plays that killed us,” he said. 

“We have to do a better job on defense and help our offense and keep them off the field. They were on the field for about nine (straight) minutes at one point. We just have to be more physical up front and there’s only one way I know how to do that and it’s in practice … and I will have them prepared (this) week.”

As the Demons tried to respond, freshman quarterback Will Morris threw his second errant pass. At this point, the Demon defense could not catch a break in terms of getting off the field. 

“You can only ask so much of those guys,” Campbell said. “If we get the ball on offense and turn it over then it’s a turnover and we give it away and keep our defense on the field. 

“One of the weaknesses of our team is depth. We don’t carry a lot of guys that can substitute each series or rotate. We got guys that have to go the long way and haul. It’s just not fair to defense when we turn it over.”

The Demons would tack on another score but it was all too late as a Pick 6 by River Bluff and a 19-yard touchdown run late put the game on ice. 

You can call it an emotional hangover from last week’s 33-28 win over rival Camden, or call it being unprepared. Campbell mentioned both of those as possible reasons for this loss. One thing is for sure; L-E is in for a rough week of practice this week in preparation for Friday’s home opener with Midland Valley. 

“I told them it was my fault for not having them ready. We talked about last week and putting it behind us. Obviously, I didn’t do a good job of emphasizing that,” he said. “There will be reminders of why we are doing what we’re doing in practice. I said ‘Sleep on this, watch the film and move on after Sunday.’ Just like we couldn’t dwell on the win at Camden, we can’t dwell on the loss to River Bluff. “

Demon Doings: Unofficially, the Demons could only muster 153 yards rushing. Considering junior tailback R.J. Brown had 180 yards in the win at Camden, it makes that number even more of a head-scratcher. Against River Bluff, Brown was held to 29 yards on 19 carries. Price led the Demons with 96 yards on the ground from 19 carries while Tucker ran for 30 yards on six carries … The Demons have been playing two quarterbacks through the first two games and here is the splits of how they did: Price was 6-of-13 for 165 yards and two touchdowns with both of those scoring tosses going to Lawson. He also threw an interception. Morris was 4-of-8 for 40 yards and threw a pair of interceptions … Lawson had two catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns for the Demons while Bradwin Salmond hauled in a pair of passes for 51 yards ... L-E had 12 first downs to 13 for River Bluff … The Gators did have five penalties while L-E was flagged nine times … Defensively, there were not many bright spots for the Demons but Cameron Payne did have 17 total tackles while Tyrik Richardson intercepted his second pass of the season … The Demon defense allowed 288 total yards rushing, including 125 from Walker and 89 on the play of tailback Antonio Gantt. 

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