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Demons take care of Knights; Kelleytown showdown is next

Posted: October 9, 2017 3:29 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of goflashwin.com/

GATLIN LAWSON HAD ONE catch for 48 yards and scored on a 15-yard run in Lugoff-Elgin’s 34-16 win over Crestwood on Friday night. The Demons will travel to meet Hartsville Friday in a game with Region 6-4A championship implications hanging in the balance.

“We are very close.”

That was the first thing Lugoff-Elgin head coach Matt Campbell said after a near-complete team victory on Friday over visiting Crestwood. 

From the fans to coaches and players, they have all been waiting for the Demons to put four full quarters together and, they are getting close at the right time. The game featured 26 L-E seniors who all played a role on offense, defense and special teams as the hosts handled the Knights on Senior Night in the West Wateree, 34-16.  

The victory was the second straight for L-E which improved to 5-3 overall while winning their second Region 6-4A game in as many starts. Crestwood fell to 4-4 and 1-1 in conference action.

“It was emotional. It was senior night,” Campbell said. “I told all these guys that you only get one senior night. It was their opportunity to show out and play hard. We created a little momentum and some energy early and really fed off of each other all night.”

The Demons led the entire way and truly never looked back in this one. They forced four Crestwood turnovers, which gives L-E eight total in its last two games. 

It took a few possessions for L-E to get rolling on offense. However, a CHS turnover got things in gear quickly with Demon freshman quarterback Will Morris capping off a quick 26-yard drive sneaking in over center for a touchdown with 2:28 left in the first quarter. In fact, the Demons scored on their next three possessions. 

“We came out a little rusty on offense early on,” Campbell said of his team’s slow start. “We stumbled some a little bit but we picked it up and felt ourselves and where we needed to be. It was just about figuring out the holes and the fits. On defense, they played great tonight. We got turnovers and stops which gave us some opportunities.”

The Demons jumped out to a 20-0 lead as junior Gatlin Lawson scored on a reverse from 15 yards away while Morris found senior Josh Boone on a play-action fake for a 30 yard touchdown. 

The Knights would make this a game and get on the board in their two ensuing possessions. A 78-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Anthony Bradley made it 20-8. L-E would answer quickly with a five-yard Tyler Dixon run which finished off a four-play, 48-yard march. 

The Demons received big contributions from tailback Randall Brown as he did most of the work between the 20s as he ran for 129 yards. Helping that cause was senior Jay Lynch who returned to fullback full time on Friday. And, of course, the hogs up front composed of seniors Wyatt Campbell, Malik Harkness, Seth Branham and Blake Crane did their job creating lanes. 

“They did a good job,” Matt Campbell said of his offensive line. “Body on body … There were a couple plays that we had leakage but we will look at the film and get that fixed. But I thought for most of the night, we played tough and physical. 

“Our backs ran hard and did a good job for us. The more opportunities you get on offense, it’s a plus. If we can start operating at the efficiency that we did tonight, we can do some good things. It will be big for us.”

Even though the Demons won this handily, the biggest moment in the game, came just before the half. 

Leading 27-16, L-E had the ball with just 39 seconds left at its own 35. With senior Chandler Price checking in at quarterback, Price connected on a 48 yard pass play over the middle to Lawson but he was tackled inside the CHS three. Instead of going for the chip shot field goal, a time out was called and L-E went for it all. Crestwood held up on the line and denied a run play up the middle to end the half. It was a very close position of where the ball was and if it possibly got across the line. 

“You know,” Campbell said of the sequence, “I thought very briefly about the field goal but I wanted a touchdown there. If I get the field goal, we are up by 14 but the touchdown gives us a three-score lead. I liked where our offense, our emotion and our confidence was in that game. I felt like we could stick it in. I would like to see the replay on the film actually because it was close.”

L-E hunkered down on defense in the second half and did exactly what the coaches expect them to do. Ground and pound, all the while playing good defense on the other end. Campbell had so much confidence in his defense that he even played a little conservative deciding to call on Boone to punt near the Crestwood 40. The senior then proceeded to pin the Knights at their own one yard line with his kick. 

Boone has been one of the more consistent Demons all season long with his long punts. He also grabbed an interception later in the game to go along with his touchdown catch in the first 24 minutes. The senior went out strong. 

“I’m proud for him,” Campbell said of Boone. “He’s worked really hard. He has put himself in those situations and thrived. It’s kind of like Tyquintin House a few weeks ago; he has practiced hard and done really well. We’ve gained more and more confidence to put him out there. With the injury to Reddek Kelley, we had to put him at safety and he got the pick there in the end. And on special teams, that’s the most improved part of our team from week one to now.”

The defense may have been led by junior Tyrik Richardson --- who had three tackles for loss --- but senior Marcus Jackson had four tackles, all in the open field. A couple of those came on special teams. “Marcus is probably our best open field tackler. He’s going to fly around there and make plays. He’s done a great job and he is gaining confidence, too,” Campbell said of his senior cornerback.

L-E tacked on another touchdown as the hosts scored off the Boone interception. It took just two plays and 49 yards as Tyler Dixon took it both times and scored from eight yards away to make it 34-16 late in the third quarter. 

The final stanza was highlighted by some of the younger players getting playing time along with some seniors who don’t normally get to see much time. Those seniors included Lee Evans, Dayton Pate, Jonathan Thomas, Jacob Whisenhunt and Brett Jacobs. 

“It was great getting the younger guys in but also the seniors that don’t get enough reps as well,” Campbell said. “They got out there on the field and got to play in front of their family and friends. Have them being seen out there was great for them and for the home crowd.”

With L-E putting together its most complete effort of the season thus far, it gives a lot of people optimism heading into Friday’s showdown in Kelleytown with first place in Region 6-4A on the line against Hartsville. Campbell knows it is going to be a fight. 

“I told them after the win to enjoy the weekend and how proud of them I was. I also said to get ready Sunday because our focus is on the next week and Hartsville,” Campbell said. 

“You know they’re going to be tough and the game will be physical. (HHS) coach Jeff Calabrese is going to have those guys geeked up. We’re going into a hostile environment. If we continue to improve and improve, we will have a shot there in Kelleytown.” 

 

Demon Doings: Unofficially, L-E had 343 total yards of offense including 296 on the ground … Brown had 129 yards on 13 carries while Dixon carried it 17 times for 92 yards. Lynch while had four carries for 58 yards which included a 39-yard run in the second half … Morris was just two of eight passing for 47 yards but led the offense to 14 first downs ... Meanwhile, the Demon defense limited Crestwood to just 232 total yards which is the lowest amount all season. They also forced four turnovers … Richardson finished with five tackles including three for loss of yardage ... Another senior with a strong night was Talik Hodge, who recorded two sacks on the night … Kelley appeared to have suffered a leg injury in the game. He was taken to the hospital after the game. There was no immediate word on his status ... Hartsville (5-1, 1-0 in Region 6-4A) tuned up for Friday’s game with L-E by rebounding from an early 12-7 deficit against Lakewood last Friday night to score a 41-18 win over the Gators in Sumter.

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