Returning to Region Five play, the Lions hosted the Marion County Red Raiders on Friday night. Following the coin toss Dax Benton lined up deep to receive the opening kick from Nicolas Olguin but the ball was recovered by the Red Raiders at the Lions 25-yard line where Nick Gardner escorted the Raiders offensive front to the field.
Tanner Upton was on the stop for the Lions on first down breaking up a pass near the line of scrimmage and on second down Upton, Tatt Huffman and Cannon Alexander held the line to make the tackle on Jacob Sanders after a one yard gain. Facing third down and nine, Gardner made the pitch-out to Sanders who was met by Tre Tranum and Huffman for the tackle after a two yard gain. With the momentum of the early turn-over and the ball resting at the 22-yard line the Red Raiders went to the passing attack with Gardner attempting to connect in the end zone with Travun Waller but the pass fell incomplete, however the Red Raiders were still alive as the Lions were penalized for pass interference on the coverage moving the ball deeper to the 12-yard line and setting up first down. Sanders fought his way around the left side of the line but was met after a three yard gain by Upton, Huffman and Tranum. With the snap of the ball Sanders fought his way over right guard for a six yard gain with Alexander, Huffman and a host of others making the stop close to the three-yard line. On third down Alexander, Upton, Austin Tucker, Brett Wright and a host of others met Sanders at the line of scrimmage for the stop leaving the Raiders facing fourth and goal with the nose of the ball near the two-yard line. Sanders took the direct snap into the end zone for the touchdown with 7:47 remaining in the first quarter of play. The PAT kick by Olquin was perfect and Marion County jumped out to an early lead.
Trey Snow fielded the ensuing kick at the 28-yard line and was brought down at the Lions 39-yard line setting up Ethan Nichols and the Lions offense for their first possession of the game. The Lions gain five yards quickly as the Red Raiders jumped off-sides prior to the snap of the ball and on the replay of down, Upton took the hand-off rambling around the left side line across mid-field to the Red Raiders 35-yard line before being brought down by Gardner and Keenan McDonald. First down brought Benton around the right side with Gardner on the stop after a nine yard gain. Benton then took the direct snap to the end zone for a 35-yard rushing touchdown with 5:59 remaining in the quarter. The PAT, kick by Benton with Nichols holding brought the score to a tie.
The Red Raiders next possession started on their own 44-yard line with Sanders taking the hand-off on first down but he was brought down for the stop immediately by Lathan Holliday and Alexander leaving the Raiders facing second down and nine yards. Following a time-out, Gardner attempted a short pass connection with Sanders in the backfield but the ball fell to the ground bringing up third down for the Raiders. Sticking with the passing attack, Gardner went deep thru the air to Waller but Brady Tucker remained on coverage for the Lions forcing the incomplete pass. Fourth down brought Gardner punting the ball away with the ball coming to a rest at the Lions 35-yard line.
Holliday got the call to fight for yardage on first down gaining three yards with Devyn Tidwell on the stop for the Raiders. Second down brought Benton out of the backfield for the first down at mid-field with Ty Owens making the saving stop for the Red Raiders. On first down the Raiders jumped off-sides and on the replay the ball was fumbled on the snap but Nichols made the recovery for the Lions setting up second down and six yards at the Red Raider 46-yard line. Benton took the hand-off out of the backfield scurrying around the left side and cutting back up the middle advancing to the 37-yard line with Aaron Madero on the stop. First down brought Holliday over right tackle with Hayden Tidwell and a host of other defenders making the stop after a three yard gain. On second down Upton was met at the line by Madero, Tyler Thomas and others leaving the Lions facing third down and six yards. Benton took the hand-off over the left side of the line of scrimmage but was met by Sanders for the solo tackle leaving the Lions facing fourth down and three as the first quarter came to a close. Benton got the call to fight for the needed yardage on fourth down and three but he was met by a host of determined defenders at the 30-yard line turning the ball over to the Red Raiders at their own 30-yard line.
Sticking with Sanders on the rushing attack, the Red Raiders only took two downs to move the ball across mid-field to the Lions 48-yard line. Sanders took the pitch out on first down for eleven yards setting up a first down at the Raiders 47-yard line with Huffman on the solo tackle. With the snap of the ball Sanders rushed over right tackle advancing to the Lions 48-yard line for another first down before Upton, Snow and a host of others could bring him down. Holliday and Upton burst thru the line for the stop on Sanders on first down leaving the Red Raiders facing second down and 11-yards. Gardner went back to the passing attack connecting deep down field with Madero and setting the Red Raiders up in the Lions red zone at the 17-yard line. Brubaker was in position to knock the ball away from Madero on first down and on second down Sanders took the pitch-out and was brought to the ground immediately by Upton for a two-yard loss. Returning to the passing attack was unsuccessful for the Raiders as Ethan Nichols remained on coverage and knocked the ball away from the out stretched arms of Waller bringing up fourth down and twelve at the Lions 19-yard line. Following a time-out by the Red Raiders coaching staff, misery struck for the Raiders as Tre Snow intercepted the pass near the goal line which was intended for Madero and raced up field where he was ruled out of bounds at the Lions 44-yard line.
First down brought penalty flags flying as the Lions were penalized for an illegal procedure and on the replay of down Benton rushed up the middle for a twelve yard gain fighting to get yardage back. Snow took the hand-off on second down and rushed right before cutting back up the middle where he was met for the stop by Thomas, Tidwell and a host of others for the stop. The Red Raiders were penalized for a personal foul moving the ball down field to the 29-yard line. First down brought Benton rushing around the right side of the line of scrimmage for a three yard gain with Sanders and McDonald on the tackle. Holliday rushed up the middle on second down but following the stop by Tidwell and Hunter West the Lions were penalized for a personal foul moving the ball back to the 37-yard line. Third down brought Benton with the rushing attack around the right end but Thomas and McDonald remained in position for the stop leaving the Lions facing fourth down and six yards at the Red Raiders 25-yard line. Benton took the direct stop but was stopped one yard short of the first down marker by Noah White, Hunter West and Sanders turning the ball over on downs at the 20-yard line.
First down brought additional misery for the Lions as they were penalized moving the ball out to the 35-yard line. Sanders took the ball up the middle on first down but Holliday made the tackle after a three yard gain. Following a time-out by the Raiders, Sanders took the snap up the middle but Austin Tucker, Upton and Huffman were in position for the stop Lions leaving the Raiders facing third down at their own 46-yard line. Flags moved the ball deeper on the Lions for an off-sides penalty giving the Red Raiders a first down at their own 46-yard line. Gardner called his own number on first down with Upton making the solo tackle at the Lion 49-yard line. Alexander and Benton made the quick tackle on Sanders on second down to bring up third down and six yards at mid-field. With the snap of the ball, Gardner found himself surrounded by Alexander, Huffman, Tranum and Upton for the stop and no gain on the play. Facing fourth down, Gardner dropped back and punted the ball away with the ball sailing out of bounds at the Lions 46-yard line.
Benton took the snap on first down and followed his blockers wasting little time in taking the ball down field to the end zone on a 54-yard rushing touchdown. The PAT kick was right down the middle of the uprights and the Lions had taken their first lead of the night with only 1:05 remaining in the first half of the game.
Gardner, Sanders, and Waller lined-up deep to receive the ensuing kick but Madero made the reception returning the ball to the 43-yard line and setting the Red Raiders up for their last possession on the half. First down brought Gardner with the passing attack in an attempt to connect over the middle with Madero but Snow and Nichols were in position with Nichols knocking the ball away. Gardner called his own number on second down rushing to the 40-yard line with Benton on the stop. With a first down, Gardner spiked the ball to save time on the clock and on second down Sanders rushed around the left side but Brady Tucker and Nichols forced him out of bounds setting up third down and three yards. Prior to the snap the Raiders were penalized for an illegal procedure and on the replay Brubaker stepped in front of the pass intended for Madero knocking the ball away and keeping the Red Raiders out of the end zone as the first half came to a close with the Lions in the lead 14 - 7.
Benton's second half opening kick was fielded by Gardner at the 3-yard line and advanced to the Red Raiders 28-yard line where Hunter Berryhill and Brubaker made the stop. Gardner called his own number on first down but Holliday remained in position for the stop after a three yard gain. Sanders took the direct snap on second down and rushed around the right side down the side line with Benton making the saving tackle at the 13-yard line. First down brought Gardner with a keeper but Huffman, Holliday and Alexander held their ground leaving the Red Raiders facing second down and thirteen yards. Gardner went with another keeper up the middle but Tranum, Alexander, Huffman and Benton made the stop after a four yard gain. Third down brought Sanders out of the backfield with the carry but he was met at the line by a host of determined defenders after a one yard gain. Facing fourth down and eight yards deep in the Lions red zone, the Red Raiders coaching staff elected to go for points by sending Olguin to the field for a field goal attempt. Brubaker continued making his presence known on the field as he burst thru the line of scrimmage and blocked the field goal kick turning the ball over to the Lions.
First down brought Benton out of the backfield for a two yard gain with Tidwell making the tackle. On second down Holliday got the call to fight for yardage and he advanced the ball up the middle for an additional five yards with a host of defenders making the tackle. Facing third down and three yards, Upton took the hand-off fighting his way to the 28-yard line for the first down. First down brought Sanders, Tidwell and others into the backfield for the sack on Nichols leaving the Lions facing second down and twelve yards. Holliday took the hand-off up the middle fighting for an eleven yard gain with Tidwell and others making the stop. Facing third and short, Upton got the call to rush the ball over right guard and he did just that picking up the first down for the Lions at their own 39-yard line. Back to back rushing attacks by Holliday moved the ball to the Red Raiders 48-yard line with Gardner making the solo stop on the second rushing attack keeping Holliday from picking up additional yardage. With the first down, the ball sailed high on the snap but Nichols made the safe recovery back at the Lions 33-yard line. Misery continued for the Lions as they were penalized for an illegal procedure prior to the snap moving the ball back further to the 38-yard line. Holliday got the orders to gain yardage back but he was met for the stop after a two yard gain by Noah White, Thomas, Tidwell and others. Facing third down and twenty-six yards, Benton took the ball up the middle to the 43-yard line before being brought down by White and a host of others. Fourth down brought Holliday into the backfield to punt the ball away with Waller back to receive for the Red Raiders.
Waller made the reception and was met by a host of Lion defenders at the Raiders 36-yard line for the stop. First down brought Madero out of the backfield but Alexander was on the stop for the Lions after a five yard gain. Sanders was met at the line of scrimmage on second down with Huffman and Holliday making the tackle. Facing third down and five yards, Sanders took the ball around the left end to the Lions 44-yard line where Benton made the tackle. With a first down, Gardner rushed up the middle but Tristan Nairemore, Alexander and Benton made the tackle after a three yard gain. The Raiders were penalized for jumping off-sides moving the ball back to the 46-yard line but with the snap of the ball Sanders fought to regain the yardage and reached the Lions 25-yard line before Upton and a host of others could make the saving stop. On first down Gardner called his own number but Michael Porter, Holliday, Upton and others were on the stop after a two yard gain. Sanders got the call to fight for yardage but was met immediately for the take-down by Upton and Benton after a one yard gain leaving the Red Raiders facing third down and seven yards. With the snap of the ball, Sanders made the recovery on the loose ball for the Red Raiders bringing up fourth down and nine yards at the 24-yard line. Gardner attempted a deep pass connection with Waller but Nichols was in position to knock the ball away resulting in the turn-over on downs to the Lions.
With the snap of the ball, Benton raced around right end following his blockers down field for his second long distance and third rushing touchdown of the game. The quick seventy-six yard rushing score gave the Lions a bit of a breather and the PAT kick by Benton was perfect leaving the score 21 - 7 in favor of the Lions.
Benton's ensuing kick sailed deep into the end zone for the touchback with the Raiders lining up at their own 20-yard line for the possession. Misery continued for the Raiders as they were penalized prior to the snap for an illegal procedure and on the replay of down, Upton and Zach Hubbert met Gardner for the sack and a one yard loss. Second down brought a passing attempt from Gardner but Nichols made the perfect catch in the middle of the field returning the ball to the Lions offensive front at the Red Raiders 34-yard line.
First down brought Upton with the rushing attack over right tackle for an eight yard gain with Waller on the tackle for the Red Raiders. Holliday took the ball deeper on second down reaching the 23-yard line for a first down before Gardner could make the saving tackle. On first down, Upton once again got the call to fight for yardage moving the ball forward for a six yard gain with Thomas and a host of others making the stop. Holliday took the hand-off over the left side of the line where he was met by a host of defenders with Tidwell, Thomas and Sanders. Facing third down and three yards, Benton took the snap to the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game with 1:14 remaining on the game clock. The PAT kick by Benton sailed right but the score remained in favor of the Lions at 27 - 7.
Benton's ensuing kick was fielded at the five-yard line by Waller who was met by Tranum and Holliday for the stop at the 23-yard line. The possession was short-lived for the Raiders as Holliday fought his way to recover the loose ball on the first down snap.
With a first down deep in the Red Raiders territory, Nichols took the snap and dropped to his knee and once again on second down Nichols took a knee allowing time to expire on the game as the Lions departed the field with the win 27 - 7. Team captains for the visiting Red Raiders were Aaron Madero, Joshua Rhudy, Jacob Sanders, Hayden Tidwell, and Noah White. Representing the Lions as team captains were Tristan Nairemore, Michael Porter, Austin Tucker and Tanner Upton.
The Lions will continue Region Five play on Friday night by traveling to Reform to face-off against the Pickens County Tornadoes. Game time is7:00p.m.
Comments from Head Coach Lamar Harris:
"What an ugly win for our team. We just didn't execute and play up to our potential in this game. I'm disappointed with the effort, especially in what I saw out of our players in the first half of the game. We have to do better as a team. The opening kick and our second offensive possession was almost complete disastrous for the start of the game, we can't allow that type of situation to happen early in a game. Marion County came into our stadium fired-up and well prepared for this game, they came here ready to play. Our guys finally came together and played like we expect them too late in the game. I'm proud of the effort put forth in the last quarter of play and I am thankful that we exited the field with the win. It was an ugly win, but it was a win. Bottom line, we have just got to stay focused on our team goals and we have got to execute the game plan by playing better from start up until the finish. I'm thankful for the support of our loyal fans and I know that their participation from the stands tonight played a part in encouraging our guys late in this game."