The Lumpkin County High School varsity football team looked primed and ready to start the 2019 season when the Indians hosted Towns County at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field on Friday, August 16, for a preseason scrimmage.
The Duel of the Indians proved to be all Lumpkin, as LCHS showcased a simplified version of its new look offense to great effect against Towns County in its 41-7 victory.
The Indians dominated Towns County on both sides of the ball throughout the scrimmage, beginning with a fumble recovery by Drew Allison on Towns’ opening play of the game.
Allison, who displayed speed and intensity for the Lumpkin defense throughout the scrimmage, pounced on the loose ball after Towns County running back Dakota Edge lost control of it on the first play of the game. The fumble recovery put Lumpkin in terrific field position for its first drive, starting the Indians at the Towns County 32-yard-line.
With LCHS quarterback Tucker Kirk behind center, the Indians began the drive with a 30-yard run by Allison. Still fired up from his fumble recovery, the junior utilized some solid blocking up front, weaved through traffic and broke a couple tackles to get the Indians down to the two-yard-line. However, Towns’ defense stiffened and allowed Allison to gain just a yard on the next two plays. Set up at the one-yard-line, the Indians handed the ball off to Allison once more and the junior found a path on the left side of the field that allowed him to gain a hard earned yard and get into the end zone. Unfortunately for Allison and Lumpkin, the touchdown run was negated when the offensive line was called for a chop block. The penalty moved the Indians back to the 17 yard-line.
Wanting to come away with points on their initial drive, the Indians went to the air on third-and-goal from the 17. However, Kirk’s pass to LCHS wide receiver Trey Wilkes fell incomplete, the Indians were called for delay of game penalty and were forced to attempt a 39-yard field goal.
LCHS kicker Jacob Covert’s attempt had enough leg on it, but the ball sailed wide left. The missed field goal gave the ball back to Towns on their own 20-yard-line.
The Lumpkin defense refused to allow Towns’ offense positive yards on the drive and quickly forced Towns to punt after a three-and-out that netted a total of -4 yards.
After failing to score points on their first possession, the Lumpkin County Indians made the most of their second drive of the game and went down the field and into the end zone on three plays. The Indians handed the ball off to running back BoJack Dowdy twice to start the drive. Dowdy picked up six strong yards on his first carry and seven hard fought yards on his second carry to get Lumpkin to the Towns County 23-yard-line. With the defense looking for the run, Kirk dropped back and delivered a short pass to Wilkes on the right side of the field. Wilkes showed off his athleticism after the catch and weaved his way into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown reception. The Kirk-Wilkes connection gave the Indians a 6-0 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first half. Covert converted the ensuing extra point to up the Lumpkin lead to 7-0.
A first down quarterback sack by LCHS junior Ryan Burkhart had Towns County moving backwards on it next drive. Burkhart shedded the Towns offensive line with ease and made a bee-line to Towns quarterback Kyle Oakes. Oakes couldn’t get the ball away before Burkhart slung him to the ground. After an incomplete pass on second down, Burkhart once again found himself in the Towns County backfield and once again brought down Oakes for a sack on third down to force Towns to punt. Towns netted a total of -12 yards on the drive to give them a total of -16 yards to start the first quarter.
The Lumpkin offense made sure to make the most of its defense’s strong work by scoring its second touchdown of the first quarter on the ensuing drive. Kirk started the drive off with a 12-yard scamper on a designed quarterback keeper that moved the Indians to the Towns County 23-yard-line. Allison followed with a 21-yard run that was called back due to a holding penalty. Allison tried again from the 22-yard-line and rumbled his way to the two-yard-line with a 20-yard run. Allison was rewarded for his hard work carrying the rock on the next play when he took the hand off and broke through the Towns County defensive line for a two-yard touchdown. Allison’s score and another made extra point extended Lumpkin’s lead over Towns to 14-0 with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
Towns’ offense started to show signs of life against the tenacious defense of Lumpkin on the next drive, as Towns was able to move the ball 12 yards on two solid runs by Edge and Oakes to record its first first down of the game. However, a bad snap ended the threat from Towns, as Allison was able to fall on top of the loose ball for his second fumble recovery of the night.
Lumpkin’s offense went back to work after the turnover. Roy Bennett started the drive off with a 20-yard run that moved the ball to the Towns County five-yard-line. Dowdy’s number was called next, but the senior running back was stopped at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Bennett followed with a run for a loss of a yard, setting up a third-and-goal from the six-yard-line.
On third-and-goal, Kirk dropped back and threw a dart to Brian Cunane on an out route. Cunane fought off the Towns defender, pulled in the ball and was able to keep his foot inside the line for Lumpkin’s third touchdown of the first quarter. After a successful extra point attempt, the Indians led Towns County 21-0 with 40.3 seconds left in the first quarter.
The 21-point first quarter performance outpaced the Indians’ average of 16.2 points per game from last season, and had them in complete control of Towns County.
Lumpkin’s defense continued to hunker down and the offense kept putting together a potent mixture of running and passing plays for the remainder of the first half.
Lumpkin went up 28-0 with 7:59 left in the half off a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Tanner Barber. The Indians added another touchdown to the scoreboard with 2:23 left in the half when Dowdy bulldozed his way into the end zone on a two-yard rushing touchdown, upping the Lumpkin lead to 34-0 going into the halftime break.
Towns finally got on to the scoreboard on its first possession of the second half. After stopping the Lumpkin offense, Towns County made an impressive 46-yard drive that ended with a 24-yard touchdown reception by Towns wide receiver Garrett Oakes, who was wide open on the play. The busted coverage by Lumpkin’s secondary led to Towns cutting the lead to 34-7 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
However, a comeback was not in the cards for Towns County.
Towns struggled to get anything else going in the game versus Lumpkin’s defense and Lumpkin freshman running back Caden Gibson sped his way to a 20-yard touchdown for the Indians with 6:18 left in the game to allow Lumpkin to earn a 41-7 victory.
“The scoreboard tells us that we did really good, but we still have a lot of things to work on,” said Sorrells. “Offensively, I think the balance is good. We did a good job of that tonight. We kept it really simple, which is what we need to be doing this early in the year. Defensively, the big thing for us is making sure that we know our assignments. It’s not a difficult defense once you get it, but there’s still some things we need work on. We’re right where I hoped we would be, but nowhere close to where we want to be. We’re right on schedule, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Although Sorrells was pleased with the win, the Lumpkin coach hopes that his players don’t become overconfident going into the season opener against East Jackson.
“Confidence is never a bad thing,” Sorrells said. “I’ll never be against confidence. We just need to make sure that it is rooted in reality. We’re changing things and things are getting better, but we are still far away from the standard that we want to measure ourselves by.”
Sorrells believes that he will get a better feel for just how good the Indians can be during the 2019 season after his players have played in their first regular season game this Friday, August 23.
“We have a much improved East Jackson team coming in next week and that’s going to be the real test,” Sorrells said. “By this time next week, we’ll be able to tell more accurately just how good we are.”
The Indians varsity football team will kickoff its 2019 regular season when they welcome East Jackson to the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field this Friday, August 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.