The Valdosta Daily Times
Lamar County didn't take long to make a statement about how it stacked up against a region considered one of the best in the state's GHSA Class AA classification on Friday, with the Region 4-AA champion Trojans routing visiting Cook 51-13.
“We definitely had a chip on our shoulder. All week, we heard about Region One. We just came in and proved what we had to do,” Lamar County quarterback Lance Austin said.
And although Lamar County rolled up more than 350 yards and saw four different players score touchdowns out of its wing-T offense, it was the Trojans defense which set the early tone.
“Our offense was able to go out there and get them to punt on their first series, and our offense just picked it up and went from there,” Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens said. “It just a tribute to our kids playing hard and executing. Our kids were executing very well.”
Lamar County (9-0-1) advances to host either Laney or Benedictine in the second round while Cook finishes its season at 7-4.
Cook, which came in with a potentially explosive spread offense led by quarterback Ross Pickle, was stymied for most of the night, starting on its first offensive drive when it was was forced to a three-and-out. Lamar County took advantage, easily driving downfield in five plays to lead 7-0 when Austin found his way into the end zone on a five-yard quarterback keeper. Austin scored again later in the first quarter, an early strike which the Hornets never recovered from. Other than two scoring drives, Cook never got much going offensively. Minus a late-game drive against Lamar County's second-string defense and the Hornets running a wildcat-style offensive formation, Cook was held to just seven points.
Playing from behind, Cook rolled the dice, going for it on fourth down three times from its own territory, coming up short each time.
Pickle finished 5-of-12 passsing for 38 yards with an interception and rushed for 32 yards and scored Cook's first touchdown of the game - from three yards out just before halftime.
By then, Lamar County had things well in hand, ahead 30-6. Grant Wilson led Cook on the ground with 51 yards.
The homestanding Trojans, on the other hand, had no such trouble. As limited as Cook's offense was, Lamar's was that much more efficent. Whether it was the pSower running up the middle by Jeremy Fletcher, who ended up as the game's leading rusher with 87 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown or the ability of Lawrence Austin and Antwan Wallace to get away from tackles in space, the Trojans appeared to be a well-oiled offensive machine on Friday.
Up 14-0 early in the second quarter, Lawrence Austin fooled the Cook defense on a misdirection play. 29 yards later, he was in the end zone for a touchdown and 21-0 lead for the Trojans. Lamar County simply kept the hammer down from there, leading 30-0 when a Tyler Scandrett field goal followed right away by a fumble returned 15 yards for a touchdown by Quay Searcy added to the first-half dominance.
Wallace scored twice in the third quarter, catching Cook's defense off-guard on end-arounds each time from 52 and 21 yards out.
“We realize that this is a tremendous win for us because we realize that this is where the upsets happen,” Stephens said.