Returning to Region play on Friday night, the Lions traveled to Tuscaloosa to face-off against the Holy Spirit Titans with hopes of remaining undefeated on the season. Following a kick out of bounds on the opening kick, the re-kick was fielded by Trey Snow who raced across mid-field to the Titans 27-yard line for a 42-yard kick return setting up Ethan Nichols the Lions offense with their opening possession. Following rushing attacks by Tanner Upton, Lathan Holliday and Dax Benton the Lions were facing second down and goal at the Titans 4-yard line and with the snap of the ball Upton took the hand-off across the goal line for the first score of the evening. Following the successful kick by Benton on the PAT, with only two minutes removed from the game clock, the Lions were first on the scoreboard.
Benton's ensuing kick sailed deep into the end zone setting the Titans up for their first offensive possession at the 20-yard line. Titan Quarterback Joseph Watkins called his own number on first down where he was met for the stop by Upton following a four yard gain. Joshua Rodgers attempted the rushing attack on second down but Tre Tranum, Upton and Cannon Alexander made the stop at the line of scrimmage leaving the Titans facing third down and six yards at their own 24-yard line. Watkins attempted his first pass on the evening trying to connect with Hayden Holthaus but the ball fell incomplete bring up fourth down. Watkins took the snap and punted the ball away with the ball rolling dead at the Titans 44-yard line.
Benton took the direct snap on first down fighting his way across the line of scrimmage for a seven yard gain before Hayden Barr was able to make the tackle. On second down Benton was met in the backfield by Garrett Lake, Rodgers and a host of others for the stop leaving the Lions facing third down and six yards. Once again Benton took the direct snap and rushed around the right end for the 42-yard touchdown with 7:09 remaining in the first quarter of play. Benton's kick on the PAT, with Nichols holding, was perfect and the score stood 14 - 0 in favor of the Lions.
Anthony Lee fielded Benton's ensuing kick at the 4-yard line advancing up field to the 38-yard line where he was forced out of bounds. On first down, Tatt Huffman made his presence known on the field by forcing a fumble on the rushing attack and Benton was in position to recover the loose ball for the Lions at the Titans 44-yard line. Nichols returned the Lions offensive front to the field and on first down, Holliday rushed up the middle for a two yard gain. Second down brought Nichols connecting thru the air with Zach Hubbert who fought his way to the 6-yard line setting up first and goal for the Lions. The ball was mishandled on the snap on first down but Nichols made the safe recovery for the Lions at the 7-yard line and on second down, Benton raced around the left end for the touchdown with 4:50 remaining in the quarter. The PAT kick by Benton was right down the middle of the uprights and the scoreboard showed the Lions with the lead 21 - 0.
Lee lined up deep to receive Benton's ensuing kick making the reception at the 7-yard line with Huffman on the solo stop for the Lions at the 19-yard line. First down brought continued misery for the Titans as Nichols intercepted the pass deep over the middle at the Lions 48-yard line.
On first down the Lions were penalized for a false start moving the ball back to the 43-yard line. On the replay of down, Upton took the hand-off over left tackle for a six yard gain with Rodgers and others making the stop. Facing second down and nine yards at mid-field, Benton took the snap and connected thru the air on the passing attack with Snow who advanced down the right side line fighting off would be tacklers where he was ruled out of bounds at the 15-yard line. Holliday took the rushing charge up the middle on first down for a six yard gain with Sam Kornegay, Roeder McNair, Searcy Elebash and a host of others on the tackle. Sticking with Holliday and the rushing attack on second down, the Lions advanced to the 4-yard line with Holliday finishing the drive off advancing over right guard into the end zone for the score. The PAT kick by Benton was perfect and with 2:10 remaining in the first quarter the Lions lead continued building 28 - 0.
Lee fielded Benton's ensuing kick at the 9-yard line with Ryan Brubaker, Holliday and Upton on the take-down for the Lions at the 18-yard line. The Lions defense held their ground once again leaving the Titans facing fourth down and eight yards at their own 20-yard line and forcing Watkins to punt the ball away.
Benton made the punt reception at the Lions 41-yard line fighting his way back to the Titans 47-yard line setting up the Lions offense front. Nichols went to the air attack on first down but Barr made the interception fighting his way back to the 23-yard line where Tre Tranum made the stop.
First down brought Rodgers out of the backfield with the rushing attack but he was met immediately by Upton, Austin Tucker, Tristan Nairemore and others after a four yard gain. Alexander made the tackle on Watkins at the line on second down as the first quarter came to a close.
Facing third down and six yards at the 19-yard line, Watkins took the snap but slipped and lost his footing resulting in a three yard loss. Watkins attempted a pass connection with Elebash near the goal line on fourth down but Snow was in position forcing the in-completion, turning the ball over on downs to the Lions deep on their end of the field.
First down brought Lee and others across the line of scrimmage to make the stop on Benton in the backfield. Upton took the hand-off racing around the left end where he was met by Watkins for the stop resulting in a four yard loss. On third down, Holliday got the call to fight for the needed yardage but he was met by McNair, Kornegay and a host of others for the stop leaving the Lions facing fourth down and three yards. Sticking with Holliday on the rushing attack proved to be successful as he took the hand-off and fought his way up the middle for the first down at the 34-yard line, keeping the possession alive for the Lions offense. Benton took the direct snap on first down but he was brought down in the backfield by Kornegay and a host of defenders. The Lions found themselves facing second down and twenty-four yards from their own 20-yard line, Benton got the call to fight for the needed yardage taking the snap and rushing over the right side of the line of scrimmage and bouncing away from would be tacklers advancing to mid-field securing the first down. Following a time-out by the Titans, Nichols took the snap and dropped back connecting on a passing attack with Brubaker who rambled down to the 23-yard line. First down brought a continuation of the passing attack with Nichols connecting with Zach Hubbert for a six yard gain. On second down the Lions were penalized for a false start moving the ball back to the 22-yard line and on the replay of down, once again the Lions were penalized for a false start moving the ball back to the 27-yard line. Following a time-out by the Lions coaching staff, Nichols completed a pass connecting with Brubaker who fought his way to the 9-yard line with Lee making the saving tackle for the Titans. Facing first down and goal inside the Titans red zone, Snow took the hand-off out of the backfield for the score with 5:02 remaining in the first half of play. The PAT kick by Benton sailed perfectly down the middle of the uprights and the Lions were comfortably in the lead 35 - 0.
Benton's ensuing kick was fielded at the 10-yard line by Lee who was brought down at the 34-yard line by Brett Wright, Huffman and others. Once again the Lions defense stood their ground with defensive stops by Austin Tucker, Wright, Alexander, Tranum and others leaving the Titans facing third down and ten yards. Watkins attempted a pass connection with Brock Holthaus but Brubaker remained in coverage for the Lions knocking the ball away. Facing fourth down, Watkins punted the ball away with Benton making the reception at the 44-yard line and racing back to the Titans 18-yard line before the stop could be made to save the punt-return touchdown.
Upton took the hand-off over left tackle on first down for a two yard gain and on second down he continued the rushing attack fighting his way over the right side of the line of scrimmage leaving the Lions facing third down and inches near the 8-yard line. The Lions were penalized for a delay moving the ball back five yards but on the replay Nichols took the ball to the end zone for the touchdown. The PAT kick by Benton was perfect and the Lions lead continued to build at 42 - 0 with 1:21 remaining in the first half.
Tre Tranum's ensuing kick was fielded by Hayden Holthaus at the 28-yard line with Z. Hubbert and others making the tackle for the Lions at the Titans 41-yard line. First down brought Hayden Barr with the rushing attack out of the backfield around the right end but Brett Wright made the solo tackle after a two yard gain. The Titans were penalized for a false start and on the replay of down, the ball came loose on the exchange but the Titans made the recovery at their own 38-yard line. Third down brought Watkins attempting to connect down field with a pass to Brock Holthaus but the reception was in and out of his hands bringing up fourth down for the Titans. Watkins punted the ball away with the ball rolling to a dead stop at the Lions 32-yard line with 1.5 seconds remaining and the Lions allowing time to expire on the half.
Returning to the field following the half-time break, Lions head coach Lamar Harris opened the second half by sending in his back-up players at many positions. Tranum's second half opening kick was signaled down at the 40-yard line setting the Titans up for their first possession of the second half. First down brought Watkins with the keeper for a five yard gain with Snow and others on the stop. Calling his own number again on second down, Watkins was met by Nairemore, Huffman and others for the stop after gaining yardage for the first down at the Lions 44-yard line. Continuing the rushing attack, Watkins took the snap but was brought down in the backfield by Nairemore, Austin Tucker and others for a three yard loss. Facing second down, Watkins connected on the passing attack with Brock Holthaus with Hunter Berryhill making the saving tackle for the Lions. Following the play the Titans were penalized for a block in the back, moving the ball back to the 29-yard line. Watkins continued the rushing attack but was met for the stop by A. Tucker and Huffman after a three yard gain. Third down brought more of Watkins fighting for yardage and once again A. Tucker was in on the defensive stop with assistance from Nairemore and others. Rodgers took the hand-off fighting up the middle but again A. Tucker, Nairemore and others were on the stop bringing up fourth down for the Titans. Watkins then attempted a pass connection with Brock Holthaus but the ball fell incomplete and the Lions took over on downs near their own 20-yard line.
Brady Tucker took the hand-off on first down racing around the right end but Watkins and a host of others were there for the stop. Second and third downs brought no gain of yardage for the Lions with the rushing attack, forcing Holliday to return to the field and punt the ball away with the ball rolling dead at the Titans 42-yard line.
The Titans took their first possession of the second half and fought their way down field putting their first points on the scoreboard. On first down Watkins called upon Elebash for the rushing attack with Elebash being met at the line of scrimmage by Jagger Morgan and Nick Selman for the stop. Second down brought Hayden Barr out of the backfield for a one yard gain with Blake Anthony and Hunter Berryhill on the tackle. Facing third down and eight yards, Watkins called his own number and scrambled around the left end and out of bounds for the first down at the Lions 45-yard line. First down brought Watkins connecting with a pass over the middle to Brock Holthaus but on second down the pass in the backfield fell incomplete leaving the Titans facing third down and three yards. With the snap of the ball, Rodgers fought his way over the left side of the line of scrimmage reaching the 33-yard line with Huffman and others on the stop. With the first down, Watkins went back to the passing attack connecting with Hayden Holthaus for a six yard gain before Hunter Berryhill brought him to the ground. Facing second down and four yards, Watkins rushed around the right end with Berryhill and Nairemore making the tackle at the 20-yard line. Micheal Porter and Jagger Morgan made the stop on Watkins at the twelve yard line as the third quarter came to a close.
Facing second down and two yards, Watkins went to the end zone in an attempt to connect with Brock Holthaus but the ball was overthrown setting up third down. Rodgers took the hand-off but was met immediately by Porter and Huffman for the stop leaving the Titans facing fourth down and one yard at the 11-yard line. Watkins called his own number and fought his way over the left side of the line of scrimmage to the 3-yard line to keep the drive alive. On first down Rodgers was brought down at the line of scrimmage by Huffman and Morgan but on second down Watkins fought his way up the middle to the end zone for the score with 10:27 remaining in the game. The PAT kick was perfect leaving the score 42 - 7.
The Lions sent Snow, Gage Key and Berryhill back to receive the ensuing kick with Snow making the reception at the 20-yard line taking the return all the way across mid-field before he could be brought down. During the stop on the play the Titans were penalized moving the ball inside their red zone and setting the Lions up with the first down at the 17-yard line. Nichols called upon Blake Anthony to fight for yardage on first down but he was met by a host of defenders after a three yard gain. Continuing the rushing fight with Anthony, the Lions picked up an additional two yards but on third down the Titans defense held leaving the Lions facing fourth down and five yards. Nichols called his own number and rushed up the middle with the keeper but he was met by a host of defenders turning the ball over on downs to the Titans at their own 13-yard line.
First down brought Watkins rushing out of the backfield with a keeper rambling around the left side line and down field for the score with 7:39 remaining in the game. The PAT kick was right down the center of the uprights and the Titans continued their fight with the score setting at 42 - 14 in favor of the Lions.
Brady Tucker made the reception on the ensuing kick and scrambled his way to the 30-yard line where Sam Kornegay, Watkins, H. Holthaus and others made the stop. Rushing attacks by Anthony, Logan Moye and B. Tucker left the Lions facing fourth down and twelve yards at their own 28-yard line resulting in Holliday returning to the field to punt the ball away. The Lions were penalized prior to the punt for a delay of game and on the replay Watkins made the reception at the 43-yard line with Tranum making the immediate take-down for the Lions.
First down brought a fumble on the exchange but the Titans managed to recover the ball setting up second down and fourteen at the Lions 47-yard line. Rodgers took the hand-off and brought down in the backfield by Evan Dozier and Colby Tidwell. Facing third down and long, Watkins attempted a pass connection with B. Holthaus over the middle but the ball fell incomplete with Key on coverage for the Lions. Watkins called his own number on fourth down and attempted to gain the needed yardage by rushing around the left side but Hunter Berryhill, Nick Selman, Logan Moye and others remained in place for the stop turning the ball over on downs to the Lions.
The Lions stuck to the rushing attack calling on Blake Anthony to fight for yardage on all four downs but the Titans held their ground forcing the ball over on downs at the Titans 47-yard line.
The Titans went to the passing attack on what was thought to be their final possession of the game and on first down Watkins attempted a deep pass to Hayden Barr but the ball was thrown out of reach. Second down brought a completion to B. Holthaus at the Lions 35-yard line for a first down. With the snap of the ball, Watkins once again connected with B. Holthaus who raced down the side line for the 35-yard score with only 14.8 seconds remaining in the ball game. The PAT kick was once again perfect and the final score read 42 - 21 in favor of the Lions.
The ensuing kick was fielded at the 25-yard line and bobbled by Carter Hollingsworth with Watkins making the recovery for the Titans at the 32-yard line. With the snap of the ball Watkins took a knee allowing time to expire on the game clock. Serving as team captains for the Lions were Seniors: Ryan Brubaker and Brett Wright and Sophomores: Zach Hubbert and Brady Tucker.
The Lions will continue Region Five play on Friday night and will host the Marion County Red Raiders at Wiley Hollingsworth Stadium. Game time is7:00p.m.
Comments from Head Coach Lamar Harris:
"Overall I was very proud of the effort of our guys throughout the first half of tonight's game. We worked as a team and we put together an execution that secured the win early on in the game. We had a chance to allow all of our players to see some playing time on the field and that pays dividends for our football program. We utilized our younger guys in the second half of the game in most of the positions which we could and that is also a building process for our program and for our younger players on the team. Not only was this good for our athletes and for our program, but it was good for the athletes of Holy Spirit as well. They have players who played extremely hard in this game also and they are building their program so we understand and we respect their desires. We knew prior to boarding the team bus and arriving for the game that if we wanted to win, it would require a lot of hard work and execution on the field, we had to show up mentally prepared to play. There are still games to be played and we expect and demand that our players continue to show sportsmanship and respect, regardless of the situations we face. Both teams tonight fought hard, showed heart and played with dedication and that's what we should expect. We have some issues that still need to be addressed on the practice field and hopefully the week ahead will allow us to continue working with the guys to focus on those concerns."