The Valdosta Daily Times
Lowndes hosted Tift County Friday night for Senior Night at Martin Stadium and the Vikings sent off their seniors the only way they knew how, with a punishing 28-7 victory.
Lowndes rode another phenomenal defensive performance to their fourth consecutive region win after a Region 1-6A opening loss to Colquitt.
The Vikings held the Blue Devils to 139 yards and forced five turnovers — two returned for scores — against one of the best offenses in the region.
The game started about as well as the Vikings could have hoped for in all three phases of the game.
On the first drive of the game Austin Dixon rolled out and hit Gabe Neighbors on an out route for a 21 yard gain. After a run and a Tift County personal foul, Brandon Roberts got a step on his defender deep and Dixon dropped the ball in perfectly over Roberts' shoulder for a 37-yard touchdown.
The throw may have been the sophomore's best pass of the season.
On Tift County's opening possession Lowndes' defense kept up the intensity they've shown all season, forcing the Blue Devils into a three-and-out.
Mason Gann came on to punt for Tift County, but Dante Robinson was able to get to the ball before Gann could get it away, Brian Bell scooped up the loose ball and took it into the end zone to put Lowndes up 14-0 early in the first quarter.
Tift County managed to get on the scoreboard on one of the few mistakes made by the Vikings all night.
After Brandon Roberts picked off a deep pass from Ryan Hedgeworth, a holding penalty pushed Lowndes inside their own 10-yard line.
After three runs the Vikings lined up to punt out of their own end zone, the punter had trouble holding onto the ball and was stripped by a Blue Devil — Which was immediately hopped on for a touchdown to cut the score to 14-7.
Due to the metric ton of penalty yards — 206 combined in the game — and a Dixon interception, it remained a one score game until halftime, but the products on the field didn't reflect it.
Tift County could not sustain any sort of drive against Lowndes' punishing defense; despite the region’s third leading passer and second leading rusher the Blue Devils were held to 34 yards in the half.
Behind a strong game from seniors Roberts, Zack Copeland and Tre Jackson, the Vikings defense completely smothered Hedgeworth, LaDarius Stewart and Blue Devils offense.
When asked what he would say to the players at halftime to keep the lead head coach Randy McPherson responded flatly, "They don't score, we win."
The defense backed up that comment in the second half and the offense got rolling and the Vikings pulled away.
Lowndes’ defense forced a punt on Tift County’s first drive, but
Dixon tossed an interception on Lowndes’ opening drive of the second half to keep the Blue Devils within striking distance.
Tift County couldn’t capitalize, fumbling the ball back to Lowndes. The Vikings finally took full control of the game by marching down the field and scoring on a 13-yard touchdown by Anthony Robinson.
On senior night, it was only fitting that Jackson picked off a Hedgeworth pass for a 42-yard touchdown to cap off the 28-7 victory.
“It was a total team effort,” said McPherson. “We’re getting better each week. I’m proud of them.”
Lowndes travels to Camden County next week in a big game against the Wildcats. With a win, the Vikings will ensure a playoff game at Martin Stadium.