The Valdosta Daily Times
PEARSON — Lanier County has had three new head coaches in the last three seasons. Luckily for the Bulldogs, each of those coaches has gotten to open against Atkinson County. Phillip Johnson became the newest Lanier County head coach to begin his Bulldogs career with a win over the Rebels, leading Lanier County to a 13-6 victory on Friday night. “Honestly it’s great (to get my first win),” Johnson said. “The kids came out in the second half and took care of the football. Offensively we made some big plays, and the defense stepped up and played well all night. It’s a great feeling, and we’re looking forward to Long (County) next week.” Heavy rain poured over the field before the game, resulting in the Bulldogs and Rebels battling on a sloppy, rain-soaked field, which clearly took its toll on the offenses. Both teams turned the ball over numerous times in the game. The Bulldogs fumbled three times in the half while the Rebels tossed three interceptions and lost a couple fumbles of their own. The first points of the game weren’t scored until a Lanier County touchdown with seven minutes remaining in the game on a two-yard run by Austin Davis. Lanier County failed on the two-point conversion attempt, which left the score 6-0. After the Bulldogs’ score, Atkinson finally found some offensive success of their own, scoring a touchdown, and failing on a two-point conversion attempt as well. The Bulldogs received the ball with under two minutes remaining in the game and their offense continued rolling. Lanier County drove within field goal range, but the kicker was not needed. Demitrius Williams hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left on the clock. Despite getting the win, Johnson cannot be pleased with his team’s ability to hold onto the ball in the first half on Friday. Before the game, Johnson identified ball security as one of the keys to winning after fumbling six times in a scrimmage a week ago and the Bulldogs coughed up the ball three more times in the first half. “We still had two or three there in the first half, and we didn’t have any in the second half; that’s the difference in the game,” said Johnson. “We can’t use the weather as an excuse at all. A lot of the times it’s guys making plays, but we’ve got to put an emphasis on ball security.” Johnson will attempt to match last season’s win total when Lanier County faces the Long County Blue Tide.