The Valdosta Daily Times
Shortly before 8 p.m., lightning strikes in the area forced fans to retreat from the stands, but nothing in the world could have forced them from the stadium on a Friday night; the Vikings opened up their season in front of a large home crowd by crushing the Luella Lions, 42-2.
Coming into the game, the Lions looked to be overmatched against a Lowndes team with state championship aspirations, and as it turned out, a brief lightning stoppage could only delay the inevitable.
Lowndes followed a familiar narrative in this game, the defense dominated while the offense moved the ball steadily and scored when the opportunity presented itself.
“I thought we had a good start,” said Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson. “We played hard. I think we did a great job.”
The Vikings defense made moving the ball a brutal chore for the Lions’ offense all game long. Lowndes held Luella to just 22 total yards in the first half and just 61 yards for the entire game.
The defense also forced four turnovers.
Despite solid overall production, the Vikings did not get off to a quick start offensively. A poor decision to return a deep kickoff gave Lowndes the ball at their own two-yard line to begin the game.
Austin Dixon got the start for the Vikings and played pretty well on the night, but with the ball pinned deep, Lowndes decided to run three straight times before being forced to punt.
While the offense got off to a slow start, the defense didn’t have the same issue.
The Vikings forced a three and out of their own, and the Vikings got the ball back on their own 20-yard line.
Dixon began the drive with an eight-yard completion to Ahman Brown, but he also overthrew a wide open receiver on third down forcing the second consecutive Lowndes punt to begin the game.
Following yet another Luella three and out, Joc Alexander fielded a punt and put the Vikings in position to take the early lead by returning it to the Lions 27-yard line.
Finally starting a drive with good field position, Lowndes wasted no time in scoring the first points of the game, and season, on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Dixon to Christian Parker in the corner of the endzone.
Lowndes was on a roll from that point on.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Vikings’ defense decided to add seven points of their own.
Jeff Phillips scooped up a high snap over the head of Luella quarterback Donald Hammond and returned it for a score.
After yet another Luella punt, the Vikings offense kept the momentum going, marching down the field in 10 plays for another touchdown, this time on a one yard plunge by Arvin Berry to make it 21-0.
The Lions were finally able to get on the scoreboard with about a minute remaining in the half.
Lowndes got the ball inside their own 20 with under a minute to play in the second quarter.
After an eight-yard run by Brown, Dixon hit Malik Roberts down the seam for an 81-yard touchdown; however, the play was called back because of a hold.
One play later, the Lions brought Dixon down in the end zone as he looked to take another shot deep.
That would be all that Luella would get all night.
Once the teams came back from the locker rooms, the Vikings continued to pound the rock at a weakening Lions defensive line.
On the Vikings opening possession of the second half, Roberts gained 45 yards on a jet sweep and Brown punched it in from a yard out to put Lowndes up 28-2.
A few drives and a Tre Jackson interception later, six consecutive runs capped by a second Brown touchdown gave the Vikings a 35-2 lead and essentially ended the game.
Both teams finished the game out with JV players in the final few possessions.
Lowndes ended the game with 248 yards of offense, but it could have been even more if it wasn’t for two long touchdowns called back by penalties.
“We gotta clean up some penalties and stuff, but overall I think it was a good game,” said McPherson.
The Vikings will be back in action Friday, Sept. 6, when Newton travels to Martin Stadium.