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Vikings rally to send Demons to eighth straight loss

Game ends with final 34-6 score

Posted: October 8, 2018 4:17 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.

It was another tale of two halves for Lugoff-Elgin football. And, Friday may have been the best this season. 

Visiting Spring Valley scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to pull away from the Demons and go on for the 34-10 victory in a Region 4-5A game at L-E Stadium.

The loss dropped the hosts to 0-8 overall and 0-2 in conference play while SV improved to 4-2 and 1-1.

L-E played a spirited first half and held the Vikings to 10 points. It was as physical and as fired up the Demons have been all season to start a game. L-E head coach Matt Campbell said he saw a different effort from his team on Senior Night. 

“We came out the gate strong and played well. I was really proud of how we came out as a team,” he said. “We have played well in the first half of a lot of games but I think this might be our strongest first half. (The SV offense) is very meticulous and you have to be very disciplined. And for the most part, we did that tonight on defense.”

The guests led, 10-6, at halftime. It was not until a late field goal that extended the deficit from a one-point game. The only points scored for L-E were two Alex Bowers field goals which came on consecutive first quarter drives; one after an SV touchdown and another after an interception. 

“We got down there the first time and it was 7-0 and I thought ‘Let’s get points on the board,’” Campbell said of the first field goal. “The second time, I did actually hesitate on whether or not to try one. I thought maybe going for it but it was maybe fourth and 10; something like that. ‘Let’s get it 7-6 because we were moving the ball well and we should have had an opportunity to score again at some point.’” 

Spring Valley would benefit greatly from special teams on this night and the first punt return and offensive drive was evident of that. 

Akele Pauling, who is getting multiple looks from schools including Georgia State which attended thegame, returned a kick inside the Demon 20. T.J. Wise finished the drive with a two-yard run as the Vikings struck first. 

The Demons would add Bowers field goals of 34 and 35 yards, respectively and made the score 7-6 with 10:02 left in the half.  But that was all the scoring they would do. 

The highlight of the first 24 minutes was L-E’s defense playing lights out physical and disciplined football against the triple option SV offensive attack. And, L-E defenders stayed on their assignments most of the night. 

“I thought our defense had a really good week of practice.” Campbell said.  “They listened to our coaches and really stayed on their keys. With the option you have the fullback dive, the quarterback and then, the pitch guy. What they are looking for is for someone to lose discipline and two guys go to one and make space. I thought our guys played it throughout the game really well … a few breakdowns, but we held up.” 

As for the L-E offense, they made some changes and it caused some slowdown in moving the football. A new quarterback and lineman made for an interesting night. However, freshman Jamari Harris did a solid job behind center and showed some flashes of what could be to come. He was brought up from jayvee last weekend to take the place of Josh Gary, who got reps at wide out.  

“I thought Jamari, for his first varsity game, did as good as he could; a good job for us,” he said. “That’s asking a lot of a 14-year-old to come in and carry it for us and lead a varsity region game. He did some good things, but there is still some learning to do for him. He has a bright future here.” 

Caleb Wise, who has been a sure-handed tight end and target in the passing game, moved to offensive line and there were some other tweaks on defense that seemed to work throughout the game for the coaching staff. 

“We moved Caleb Wise back to offensive line, and those guys played physical. I’ll save most of my judgment until we see the film but we moved some defensive lineman to give us help at tight end,” Campbell said.

“Josh Gary got reps at receiver for us. We have to keep tinkering and plug guys in here and there and see what works for us.”

The L-E defense was certainly flexing its muscles during the first half as that unit received great effort and solo stops from several different faces. Senior Kevin Bowie had five stops including two for loss while Jasper Tucker had eight tackles with one for loss. Even Tyrik Richardson, one of the Midlands leading tacklers from a year ago, had one of his best games of the season with 10 tackles. Possibly the most unheralded hero of the L-E defense is Eli McGee who has played multiple positions and snagged an interception that set up the second Alex Bowers field goal.

Many of those names mentioned were seniors and they certainly showed out in front of the home crowd one final time. “I’m proud of all the seniors. They were integral parts,” Campbell said. “Tyrik Richardson has been here four years, Kevin Bowie has come on well lately. Caiman Welch and David Pillard are just two animals working out and getting after it. I don’t have to say anything about R.J. Brown. You see his impact and he’s a great leader on the field. Caleb McDonald has been here four years. Auston Lee has played all over the line. Cody Russell has battled through injuries but played and, of course, Evan Freier, our kickoff guy.”

The L-E defense was unable to hold on the final drive of the half though, as Alex Herrera booted a 43-yarder to make it a four-point deficit going into the half. The Vikings took that momentum into the third quarter to start the half. A running play of 50-plus yards, the largest of the game, set up SV inside the L-E five with the touchdown making it 17-6.

“The one before half, I didn’t think much of. It was a good drive and our defense held them but that drive after the half killed us,” Campbell said of the two SV scores.

“We came out in the second half and our guys were excited. I told them we had nothing to lose, play loose and get after it. They did what I asked but, they came out strong. Anytime you can score on the first drive of the second half that is a great momentum builder and it worked out well for them.”

L-E then went three and out. Two drives later, Pauling got another big return. This time it went all the way from 60 yards away.

“That guy back there is dangerous.” Campbell said of Pauling. “We tried to kick it away from him, at times, but he would take rolling balls and return it. We could not get him corraled. We had one or two guys close to him but we didn’t do a great job of wrapping up. We have to protect then go and cover stuff like that.”

On the ensuing drive, the Vikings took advantage of an interception and scored on a short 34-yard drive. This time Isiah Miller snuck in from three yards away and the rout was on at 31-6.

“I think we got tired in the second half.” Campbell said. “It’s not an effort thing at all. We have defensive linemen that are playing 60 plays or so in a game and we needed some depth to help that and we just don’t have it. You have to be able to put some fresh guys in there from time to time.

“It’s a long, tough physical game. Those guys lay it on the line for us every week. I’m proud of their efforts but we just have to build some depth.”

A late field goal before the triple zeros hit made it 34-6. L-E is now in a deeper hole with two games left to play in the regular season. It’s not only about winning a game, it’s also about making the playoffs and showing promise for 2019.

The postgame speech for L-E was short and sweet.

“I told them keep fighting. It’s not over. It’s never over until that season is officially done,” Campbell said. “I told them I was going to come in here and work my tail off and I expected the same from them. I think they will respond. I think we have improved every week. We just have to keep growing and keep trying and see what happens after that.”

Demon Doings: Unofficially, Spring Valley may have had one of its lowest outputs of the season rushing. The Vikings had less than 200 yards with Adrian Ross leading the way at 62 yards … Herrera was a busy guy as he threw for 29 yards, ran for 37 and kicked two field goals ... Spring Valley had some costly penalties, too. A few that actually extended Demon drives. They had seven penalties but four of the 15- yard variety … SV had 10 first downs to 13 for L-E … The Demons had 52 yards rushing on 21 carries … Harris completed five passes with an interception but he had two passes for 10-plus yards including a 20-yarder to McDonald. Harris also ran it 12 times for 56 yards ... L-E had three penalties with two turnovers … On defense, Tahmaz Gilchrist had seven tackles with two pass deflections. Ethan Wolfe added four solo stops and Omarion Samules and Tyquan Wright who were both in coverage most of the night still found a way to make four tackles each. 

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