This was classic, dominant Lowndes football.
Lowndes pounded Luella 50-23 in its season opener on Friday night at Martin Stadium. The Vikings accumulated 473 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns in the win.
The 2012 Lowndes Vikings played a lot like a number of recent Viking teams in their season opener on Friday night. Their wing-T offense moved the ball up and down the field all night. Their defense limited Luella’s first-team offense to just one touchdown. And they won big.
“We’re proud of our kids. They played hard. We were able to make some plays on both sides of the ball,” Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson said.
Lowndes’ ground game was particularly good, running for 408 yards. Nick Burgman was the Vikings’ leading rusher, gaining 140 yards on 11 carries. Tevin Brown added 93 yards on 13 carries. Twelve different players carried the ball for Lowndes.
“The offensive line made it happen. We’ve got three (linemen) back and the two young kids are doing a good job. The running backs obviously ran hard,” McPherson said. “I’m proud of them.”
Luella’s only scoring drive against the Vikings’ first-team defense came on the Lions first possession.
“(Our defense) played good. All except for two plays,” McPherson said. “I’m proud of them, too. They work hard, they play hard.”
On the opening drive of the game, Tiquan Lang gained three yards on fourth-and-inches from the Lowndes 30 to move the chains. Two plays later, Tevin Orr broke off a 24-yard run. Runs of 11 and 15 yards by Burgman helped move the ball to the Lions’ 4-yard line, but a holding penalty moved it back to the 15.
On second-and-goal from the 10, Stephenson faked a handoff to one back, then handed off to Nick Burgman. Burgman sped through a hole and ran untouched into the end zone for the touchdown. Lowndes then lined up in the swinging gate, and instead of shifting into position for an extra point, the long snapper snapped the ball to Burgman, who ran the ball in for the two-point conversion, giving Lowndes an 8-0 lead.
Luella answered with a touchdown. On the second play of the drive, Lions quarterback Jared Hendricks went through a hole, and took off running down the field. He sprinted 66 yards, and began celebrating as he got close to the goal line. But he was pulled down from behind at the Vikings’ 4 — and got a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, which moved the ball back to the 19. Hendricks found Gabe Smith for 17 yards on the next play, and three plays later, he scored on a quarterback keeper from the 1-foot line. Then he hit Smith out of the backfield for the two-point conversion, tying the score at 8-8.
It wouldn’t stay tied for long, because Lowndes drove 63 yards in five plays to retake the lead. Burgman had runs of 18 and 36 yards on back-to-back plays, which moved the ball to the Lions’ 5. On the next play, Jordan Williams took the handoff and ran into the end zone for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but the Vikings had a 14-8 lead.
The Vikings led the rest of the way.
Lowndes got the ball back at Luella’s 41 after a three-and-out and a short punt, and drove for another touchdown. On second-and-goal from the 9, Williams took the handoff going right. He sped around the corner and ran into the end zone for his second touchdown. Then Orr ran for the two-point conversion, giving his team a 22-8 lead.
After another three-and-out, Lowndes got the ball back at its own 42, and went 58 yards in eight plays, with seven of those plays coming on the ground. Burgman’s three-yard touchdown run and Gustavo Gonzales’ extra point gave the Vikings a 29-8 lead.
On Lowndes’ fifth possession of the night, they scored their fifth touchdown of the night. Ahman Brown’s 22-yard run moved the ball into Lions territory. Two plays later, with the ball at the Luella 31, Tevin Brown took the handoff. He followed his blockers, then broke away and raced 31 yards into the end zone to give the Vikings a 36-8 lead.
Early in the third quarter, Luella recovered a fumble at the Vikings’ 9, which led to a 27-yard field goal by Andrew Roberts, making it 36-11.
The Vikings added two more touchdowns in the third quarter. First, they went 70 yards in seven plays for a score. The big play was a 33-yard pass from Seth Carlo to Chris Hill, to the Lions’ 25. Three runs and a five-yard penalty moved the ball inside the 5, then on second-and-goal from the 3, Ahman Brown ran the ball into the end zone, giving the Vikings a 43-11 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lang hit the return man and forced him to cough up the ball. The Vikings recovered at the Luella 18. Five plays later, on third-and-goal from the 4, Ahman Brown went right, got blocks in front of him and crossed the goal line for the touchdown. Nick Hart kicked the extra point, extending Lowndes’ lead to 50-11.
Because Lowndes led by more than 30 points after three quarters, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock. Both teams let their reserves play the final quarter.
With 1:59 left in the game, on fourth-and-4 from the Vikings’ 13, Luella’s Donald Hammond went left on an option play, then pitched to Joshua White, who broke into the open and ran over a defender at the goal line to score a touchdown, making the score 50-17.
In the last minute of the game, Luella’s Jawuan Johnson scooped up a fumble and returned it 45 yards for the game’s final touchdown, making the final score 50-23.
The late Sonny Martin, who was a teacher and superintendent in the Lowndes County School System for many years, was honored at halftime. A plaque was unveiled in Martin’s honor — at the stadium that bears his name. Several of Martin’s family members attended the ceremony. Martin received a standing ovation from the crowd.
This was classic, dominant Lowndes football.
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