VALDOSTA — Lowndes’ defense made its presence felt in its playoff opener.
Tyson Shaw had an interception return for a touchdown, Tymere Moore added another interception that led to a score and the No. 1 Vikings limited Campbell’s run game to 169 yards in a 60-6 rout at Martin Stadium on Friday night.
“We needed a game like that,” defensive coordinator Byron Slack said after Lowndes improved to 11-0. “Our plan was to stop them from running the ball, but finishing plays and making big plays — we pride ourselves in trying to score and do things of that nature when we get opportunities. And we got some opportunities.”
Ray Decosey led the Spartans’ rushing effort with 121 yards on eight attempts with a late third-quarter score, which came after Lowndes’ starting defenders had been removed.
Campbell was held to 195 yards of offense and successfully completed only three of its 12 first downs.
Campbell’s wildcat plays were among the biggest challenges Lowndes’ D faced. But it wasn’t enough to get the best of the home team’s defensive unit.
“When they got in the wildcat, they were very successful at it,” said Moore, who had three solo tackles. “They had to look at film from Colquitt, because they ran almost the same stuff Colquitt ran two weeks ago. They were very successful at the end of the first half with the wildcat, but we started stopping them and they didn’t have anything else to do.”
After dropping a potential pick early in the first half, Moore didn’t squander his second opportunity at taking the ball away from the Spartans. The senior safety knew the rout and got in position to make a play on the ball.
“I did what I had to do and I knew what route he was running, so I just ran to form and the ball just came to my hands,” he said.
Moore intercepted the ball near the Campbell 40 and returned it to the 17, setting up Michael Barrett’s scoring toss to Tayvonn Kyle near the left pylon that extended the lead to 32-0 at halftime.
Shaw’s INT score came a series earlier. He corralled a bobbled pass from the 13 and ran for the score. Marcus Gary’s 2-point conversion catch-and-run made it 26-0 with 2:12 left in the first half.
Lowndes’ Jamari Hill was in on the defensive rush that sacked Decosey and shut down the Spartans’ hopes of getting their ground game going before the half. Hill finished with a game-high seven tackles (six solo) and two for a loss.
“They commit to running that outside zone and they have a good little running back and the quarterback does enough to keep you honest,” Slack said. “I thought our guys did a great job, particularly in the back when (Campbell) did get back there and throw, getting them on the ground and batting the ball down.”
Barrett broke loose down the right sideline for a 70-yard run that set up Gary Osby’s 2-yard TD run for the game’s first points. …Kyle returned a punt 66 yards down the left sideline to give the Vikings a 15-0 advantage after Gary’s 2-point conversion catch-and-run. …Lowndes recovered two Campbell fumbles.
Lowndes used a heavy run game to beat Campbell. With their second-leading rusher Travis Tisdale sitting out, the Vikings rushed for 298 yards while passing for just 53. The run rate was successful, too, a 9.9 yards-per-carry average. They picked up 12 first downs on run attempts.
Barrett led the Vikings with 94 yards on four carries. Osby carried seven times for 68 yards and three scores, and J.D. Lee carried eight times for 60 yards and a TD.
Barrett’s 94 yards rushing boosted him across the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a second straight year. He has 1,049 rushing yards through 11 games. He totaled 1,192 yards last season en route to a Region 1-7A Player of the Year honor. The senior QB has passed for 1,488 yards this season. He had 2,760 yards through the air last year.
THEY SAID IT
Said Shaw of defending Campbell’s offense: “When they’d do a wildcat offense, quarterback would go off and the running back would come in, they cut it up the middle a few times on us. Nothing that we can’t fix. We’ll make adjustments. That’s what good teams do.”
Said coach Randy McPherson of Lowndes’ defensive performance: “We wanted to keep the big plays (down) and they did that. The B-team was in when (Campbell) scored the touchdown, so I thought we played very well.”
Said Lee of facing McEachern on Friday: “They beat us my 10th-grade year. That has stuck with us for a long time. When we play them it’s going to be a good game.”
Lowndes season ticket holders can purchase their seats today. Viking Touchdown Club members can purchase tickets today. On Wednesday morning all remaining tickets will go on sale to the public. For second-round playoff games tickets are $10 each.
As per GHSA rules, student tickets will be on sale only at Lowndes High School and only LHS students can purchase and enter on a student ticket. Student tickets are on sale at Lowndes High to LHS students during all lunch periods.
As with all playoff games, GHSA and GAOA passes will be the only passes honored. All others except “babies in arms” will need a ticket. All tickets are $10 each and all seats are reserved seats. The Viking Athletic Ticket Office is located in the Board of Education annex on Norman Drive. Ticket office hours are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Region championship T-shirts are available in both long and short sleeve and in gray, crimson and white. They will be on sale at the ticket office — $10 for short sleeve and $15 for long sleeve. Viking sweatshirts, Breakfast Club aprons and Viking cow bells are also on sale.