The Valdosta Daily Times
After a week full of adversity, it was only fitting that the Vikings needed to overcome a bit more to get a hard-fought road victory over the Brunswick Pirates 38-30.
The last week has been a tough one for the Viking Nation. Just three days after suffering the worst home loss in Lowndes' history – 37-7 against the Colquitt Packers – multiple players walked off of the practice field and the Vikings roster.
Despite earlier reports of as many as 10 players leaving the team, when Lowndes' updated roster came out this week only three players were absent, running back Ahman Brown, offensive lineman C.J. Schell, and defensive back Tra Durden.
Lowndes wanted to come out, forget about all of that, and play football Friday night; Brunswick was happy to oblige.
The Pirates used a bit of trickery on the first play of the game. A pass behind the line of scrimmage caused Eric Hart to bite on the fake, but the play was a double pass which allowed Desmond Vail to get wide open down field.
Luckily for the Vikings, Vail stumbled before catching the pass while falling to the ground on what would have been a sure touchdown. Instead, Lowndes' defense tightened to force a punt.
On offense, the Vikings did exactly what head coach Randy McPherson said he needed them to do to succeed. Lowndes blocked better, cut back the penalties, and when they fumbled, they were able to recover, while running the same wing-T that delivered three state championships to the school, and Friday night, it scored them yet another win.
After an opening three-and-out, the Vikings offense got rolling on the second drive, mixing passes with the signature wing-T to move the ball effectively. After three straight runs for a first down, Austin Dixon hit Christian Parker on a pass down to the goal line and Jerome Daniels punched it in for the first points of the game.
Once the Vikings got the ball back, they marched right down field for another touchdown on four runs, capped by a 55-yard run by Brandon Roberts. Roberts hit a hole and put a stutter step on the safety to spring him for the score to put Lowndes up 14-0.
Brunswick got on the score board a few drives later when quarterback Cody Dixon ran straight up the gut on a draw for a 46-yard touchdown, reminiscent of a touchdown scored by the Packers a week ago. The two-point conversion made the score 14-8 with two minutes before half.
Rather than sit on the ball and go in the locker room up a score, Lowndes chose to push the ball and Austin Dixon delivered a perfect pass to Malik Roberts for a 56-yard touchdown. Austin stepped up in the pocket and put the ball between Malik's numbers to give the Vikings a 21-8 lead at halftime.
But the Pirates weren't about to go down easily. On their first play of the second half, Brunswick again ran a double pass, again catching Hart peeking into the backfield; this time A.J. Jackson was able to stay on his feet and walk into the end zone for the 80 of his 186 yards and a score.
Lowndes answered right away with a big return by Anthony Robinson, combined with a horse-collar penalty to give the Vikings great field position. A few plays later, Daniels scored another short touchdown to put the Vikings back up three scores, 31-14.
However, a miraculous scramble by Cody Dixon — he ran in circles before seeing a hole, making a move and getting into the end zone — and an interception thrown by Austin Dixon gave the Pirates the ball down nine points.
Cody Dixon threw his first touchdown of the day over Joc Alexander soon after, and following the two-point conversion, the Pirates were only down one, 31-30.
The Vikings remained calm and drove the ball down to the Brunswick nine-yard line where they faced a 4th and one. Instead of kicking the field goal to give Lowndes a four point lead, McPherson decided to go for it. The run was stopped short and the Pirates suddenly had a chance to win it late.
But two plays later Hart redeemed his mistakes in coverage earlier in the game by picking off Cody Dixon's pass at the 15, zig-zagging through defenders and into the end zone to put Lowndes up 38-30.
After a few more holds by the Vikings defense, the 38-30 margin of victory stood.
Despite a tough day for the usually solid defense of Lowndes, the offense was able to move the ball well and keep the Vikings ahead.
Lowndes finished with 443 yards of offense with 359 of those coming on the ground with just 49 rushes.
"Offense, the quarterback, our kids played really well tonight," said Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson. "We gave up some big plays on defense which is a concern, those double passes, but I'm very proud of the team after last week."
With Brown no longer in the mix for carries, Daniels led the way with nine rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Robinson also saw a lot more carries, finishing with 11 carries for 72 yards.
The Vikings will be back in Valdosta next week to take on the Valdosta Wildcats at Martin Stadium in the annual Winnersville Classic.