The Valdosta Daily Times
Fans both young and old filled Martin Stadium for Lowndes' homecoming night to watch the Vikings crush the Hardaway Hawks 63-0.
Despite a packed stadium, the crowd noise never got too loud and that is because an opportunistic Viking team made sure the game was never even close.
Hardaway and Lowndes alternated turnovers and touchdowns in each teams' first four possessions as the Vikings built a big lead quickly and never looked back.
"The defense played real hard out there," said Randy McPherson, Lowndes head coach. "I think we got a little bit better tonight."
Hardaway came into the game without their top weapon on offense. Runningback Justin Crawford, who has drawn interest from UGA and Alabama, did not make the trip to Titletown after he was suspended by the team for skipping class this week.
Without Crawford, the Hawks struggled mightily trying to move the ball. Hardaway received the ball to begin the game and were immediately forced into a three-and-out by the Vikings defense, who has looked dominant in the last two games while pitching consecutive shutouts.
When Hardaway tried to punt the ball away, the entire Lowndes defensive line broke through, forcing the punter to botch the punt. A.J. Harper was able to dive on the ball in the end zone to get the Vikings on the board first.
On Hardaway's ensuing possession, the Hawks' quarterback had trouble handling the snap on
second down, but the team was able to get back on
However, on the next play, the quarterback tried taking a shot down-field, but a poorly executed play left two Hardaway receivers running down the same sideline, bringing two defenders to the throw.
Brandon Roberts was able to go up and pick the ball off, setting Lowndes up with a short field.
Seven consecutive runs on Lowndes' first drive, capped by a Jerome Daniels three-yard touchdown, put the home team up 14-0.
After two bad snaps in the first two drives, the center and quarterback of Hardaway were still having issues with the snap, and the Hawks put yet another ball on the ground on a botched snap and the Vikings were able to recover.
Ahman Brown came through with a 23-yard gain on a third and short to set up a Arvin Berry touchdown from two yards out.
Despite botching yet another snap, Hardaway would eventually stop turning the ball over when their fourth offensive drive mercifully ended with a punt, but Lowndes' offense would wait quite a bit longer before they decided to stop scoring touchdowns.
On the first play of the next drive, Austin Dixon faked a bubble screen to Malik Roberts, pump faked, and hit a wide open Seneca Fuller for a 21-yard touchdown.
Three more Hardaway three-and-outs and Lowndes touchdowns would follow as the Vikings racked up 207 yards of offense and scored on all six of their first-half drives. Daniels and Berry combined to account for five of those six touchdowns as the Vikings built a 49-0 lead going into the locker room.
"Any time you're able to move the ball it starts with the offensive line," said McPherson
During halftime, four Vikings were honored on the Homecoming Court.
Quarterback Austin Dixon and tight end Justin Fuller were named to the underclassmen court while Berry and Eric Hart appeared on the upperclassmen court. Joey Wright and Lowndes cheerleader, Catherine Green won Homecoming King and Queen, respectively.
Just like last week when the Vikings held a 52-0 advantage over Windsor Forest at half, Lowndes once again played its junior varsity team the entire second half. This time the clock continued rolling the entire second half.
And while the Vikings may have put JV in, the beginning of the second half looked very similar to the beginning of the first.
Just three plays into the half, Lowndes scored on their seventh consecutive possession when Dezmon Copeland was met in the backfield, bounced out of a tackle, turned the corner, and broke a 44-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 56-0.
On Hardaway's first possession of the second half, the same problems that troubled them in the first half continued to plague the Hawks.
The Hawks once again experienced issues on the quarterback-center exchange, but they were fortunately able to get back on the ball. One play later a big hit on a completed screen pass forced a fumble and the Vikings were able to recover.
Lowndes was finally held without a score when their eighth possession fizzeled on a 4th and short in the red zone.
Last week when Lowndes scored 87 points in a victory, many people believed the Vikings were piling on, but this week, with the benefit of a running clock, the second half would end without too much more damage as the Vikings wrapped up a 63-0 victory.
"I don't listen to all of that talk," said McPherson. "We're just trying to win and do the best we can. Our strategy was to play football."
Copeland would finish with 57 yards on just five carries for the JV and the Vikings would end with 320 yards of total offense and 16 first downs and forcing the Hawks into negative five yards on 20 runs and 30 offensive yards.
As McPherson said after the game, the real season begins next week for the Vikings as their region schedule opens up with a huge game against the Colquitt Packers at Martin Stadium.