VALDOSTA—The No. 25 Lowndes Vikings (5-0) knocked off No. 12 Miami Northwestern (3-2) 48-21 on senior night at newly-named Joe Wilson Field.
Despite two first quarter turnovers from sophomore quarterback Jacurri Brown, Lowndes was able to grab the Bulls by the horns and send Northwestern home with their second loss of the season.
With the Vikings at their own 10, Brown fumbled and gave the Bulls possession at the Lowndes 11.
In stepped the Concrete Curtain.
A deflected pass by Josh Brown, a run stop by Gary Osby and a field goal block by Jaylon Jones gave Lowndes the ball back without allowing a point to the Bulls.
But when Brown threw an interception on the ensuing drive, the Lowndes defense came to the rescue once again. They forced a Northwestern fumble and Osby scored a 21-yard touchdown on the first play of their next possession.
“When I got to the sideline everyone was like: ‘You’re good, you’re good, you’re good’,” Brown said after the game. “You’ve got to lift up your team. You’ve got to have that good energy. Football is a game of momentum and we didn’t have a lot of momentum at the time but they couldn’t keep theirs either. We just dug out the win.”
Brown, who just received his license on Thursday, is only a sophomore. Despite his youth, he was the offensive player that the Vikings turned to when they needed a spark on senior night. He led the team with 174 rushing yards on 16 attempts with two touchdowns and 4-of-7 passing with 42 yards and one passing touchdown.
“It feels like I made up for it,” Brown said. “Those turnovers are on me and I have to own up to it. And I had to make up for it. And I did, and we did, as a team. They’ve got my back. Thank God for defense.”
A Brown led the Vikings in passing yards too, but it wasn’t Jacurri. Senior receiver Ghetti Brown finished the night with 67 passing yards and a touchdown after the Vikings called a double-pass on third-and-21 in the third quarter. Brown found senior receiver Tony Wiseman streaking downfield and he walked in untouched.
From that point, it was on the defense to do what they’ve done throughout the season.
Shut teams down.
For the game, the Concrete Curtain held the Bulls to -12 rushing yards on 21 attempts. The Bulls had better luck passing but still only finished with 270 offensive yards.
“We’ve got a saying around here that defense isn’t conditional,” defensive coordinator Byron Slack said after the game. “We don’t judge how good we’re going to play depending if the situation is conducive for good defensive play. We don’t look at a turnover and go, oh they had a turnover so that’s why they scored. We look at it as an opportunity to go play defense. And we’re going to go out there whether it’s one or 100 plays. Whether it’s on the one yard line or they’ve got to drive 99 yards. And do our job, which is to stop people. They did a great job of that tonight.”
The Bulls only allowed 37 points through three games. The Vikings nearly eclipsed that mark by the third quarter when they led 35-7. They played their brand of football. Smash mouth and hard nose for 48 minutes on the gridiron.
“I’ve got one thing to say: Always bet on the Vikings,” senior Shawn Martin said. “We’re going to come out and play hard no matter who it is. They can be the No. 1 team in the nation, we don’t care. We’re going to come out here, play hard and play our football. That South Georgia football. That dirty south.”
The Vikings finished the game with 480 yards on offense, four sacks and 30 tackles. A true team win on a night where the home stands were packed from end to end. Seniors like Osby made the win possible.
“It feels great doing what I do but I know none of that would be possible without my team,” Osby said after the win. “Them boys, they did what they needed to do (laughs)”
Before the game, Lowndes honored the senior band, cheerleaders, football players and cross country runners. Then an announcement was made that the field would be named after historic coach Joe Wilson as he was honored at midfield.
Then a student-led prayer was followed by a applause from the crowd and an extended moment of silence.
The pregame festivities had just as much action as the actual contest but when the whistle blew and the ball was kicked off, the Vikings were business-as-usual.
“We try to keep it business-like man,” head coach Randy McPherson said. “We’ve got a good group of seniors that care. 39 of them. It’s great leadership on this team. It’s really good leadership.”
Now the Vikings set their sights across town.
Where the rival Valdosta Wildcats (5-0) are unbeaten through their first five contest.
Next Friday will mark the first time that the Vikings and Wildcats will meet as unbeaten teams since the season opening game in 2016.
The Vikings will host the Wildcats at Joe Wilson Field at Martin Stadium in the 58th meeting between the two teams next Friday at 8 p.m.