Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

August 19, 2013

Defense shines in Lowndes' scrimmage

VALDOSTA — Dominating defense, steady offense, and engaged fans. Lowndes football is back and the Vikings made sure Thomasville knew it, crushing the Bulldogs’ varsity team 41-0 Friday night.

Both teams played their varsity squads for the first three quarter of the scrimmage before resetting the scores for junior varsity at the beginning of the fourth.

In front of a student section that looks to already be in midseason form, the Viking starting defense looked sharp from the first snap against a sloppy Thomasville offense. Lowndes’ defense, both varsity and JV, smothered the Bulldogs offense all night, holding them to 176 total yards in the game, only 72 on the ground.

“We’re real pleased with the defense,” head coach Randy McPherson said. “They played very hard; we were able to get the shutout. That’s a good start.”

Lowndes’ varsity defense was especially aggressive, forcing four fumbles, recovering three, along with an interception while consistently getting multiple hits on the ball carrier.

There didn’t appear to be any weak links on the Vikings’ defense on Friday, but there were a few players who stood out.

Brian Bell, Dante Robinson, and Tra Durdern made their presence felt throughout the game. Bell was all over the field in the first quarter of the game; he had two solo tackles to go along with three assists. Robinson had a big sack on a Bulldogs fourth and short in the first quarter, and Durden had an interception on a deep pass that was well underthrown.

McPherson seemed to also have difficulty choosing only one standout.

“The whole entire defense stood out,” said McPherson. “Jackson in the middle, he’s the leader of the bunch. The secondary played well, Zach Copeland made some plays. I’m proud of them.”

While the Vikings’ defense stifled the Bulldogs, their offense moved the ball consistently, picking up first down after first down with a few big plays sprinkled in, finishing with 446 total yards.

While Austin Dixon started the scrimmage for Lowndes, the looked more dynamic with the threat of Tai Hatcher’s legs, despite completing only 3-4 for 19 yards.

With Hatcher running the read, the Vikings’ ground game gobbled up yards. Alex Brown ran nine times for 61 yards and a touchdown; Jerome Daniels had 43 yards and a touchdown of his own. Daniels also took a screen pass of 35 yards for a score with some nice moves in the open field.

After Thomasville fumbled a snap that was returned by a score, the Bulldogs punted the ball back to the Vikings after their next drive. Ahman Brown capped off the varsity’s scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run late in the third.

Once the teams’ junior varsity squads entered, the matchup looked a little more even.

The Vikings fumbled three times, losing two, in the fourth quarter, but there were some positives from the junior varsity too.

The entire JV defensive line generated pressure and junior fullback Ahmad Sneed broke through the middle of the defense to go 47 yards for a score.

There was a scary moment late in the fourth quarter of the scrimmage. Vikings quarterback Tyson Harris pulled the ball down on a scramble and was hit by a Thomasville player who looked to lead with his helmet.

The Thomasville player, who couldn’t be identified, stayed down on the field for a long time before both teams decided to forgo the final 18 seconds of the games as the player was taken away by an ambulance with an apparent neck injury.

With rain falling throughout the day, the scrimmage looked to be in doubt early on, but the rain started to die down before the game’s scheduled 8 p.m. start time, so the teams decided to kick off at 7:30 p.m. to ensure the game got in.

At halftime of the scrimmage, Lowndes took a second to unveil the new jumbotron installed at Martin Stadium this summer. The project had been six years in the making.

The Vikings are off next week, but open up their regular season at home against Luella on Aug. 30.

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