Varsity football earns first win of season

  • Indians running back BoJack Dowdy applauds his teammates after scoring his third touchdown in Lumpkin’s victory over the Gilmer County Bobcats last Friday. Dowdy rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
    Indians running back BoJack Dowdy applauds his teammates after scoring his third touchdown in Lumpkin’s victory over the Gilmer County Bobcats last Friday. Dowdy rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
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It was a Super Bowl-type atmosphere at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field after the LCHS varsity football team earned its first win of the 2019 season by defeating the GIlmer County Bobcats 29-20 this past Friday, Sept. 13.
After starting the season 0-3, including two blowout losses to White and Jackson counties, the Indians exploded in an emotional display of hugs, cheers and smiles when the final whistle blew.
“We had chances to be the old Lumpkin,” said LCHS head coach Caleb Sorrells. “We had chances to say, ‘here we go again,’ but we didn’t. It was a really, really good team effort.”
The 29-20 win marked the first for Sorrells since taking over the head coaching position that was vacated by Shane Williamson at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
“I am just happy for the kids,” Sorrells said. “I believe in them and they believe in themselves. They just needed something to show them they can do it and that the work they put in is worth it. That’s what I hope they get from this win.”
Lumpkin put up over 300 yards of offense on the Bobcats, including a 167-yard, three touchdown performance from LCHS running back BoJack Dowdy. The Indians’ ground attack decimated Gilmer’s defense and helped to open up Lumpkin’s aerial attack.
LCHS quarterback Tucker Kirk had one of his best performances of the season, racking up 79 yards through the air and completing six of his eight passes.
“Tucker played really well,” Sorrells said. “He put it all together. He was making reads, he was making some decisions he hadn’t made in previous games. And, that’s because he is growing, he’s getting better.”
Sorrells credited the offensive line for the big numbers that the Indians put up on the ground in the game.
“When BoJack [Dowdy] came in late in the first half, he came over to the sideline and told us that the holes were there and that they were big,” Sorrells said. “BoJack ran the ball well and played absolutely great, but that had a lot to do with the offensive line. Those guys played their hearts out and made things happen.”
The Bobcats couldn’t get anything going against a hungry Lumpkin defense on the game’s opening drive. The Indians held Gilmer to nine yards on the opening drive and forced the Bobcats to punt from their own 35-yard-line.
Gilmer’s punt was a short one that put Lumpkin in good field position to start its first drive of the game. The Indians needed just five plays to score the game’s first touchdown. The 47-yard drive, which started with a solid nine-yard run by Tate Reinhardt and a four-yard reception by Brian Cunane, was capped off by three strong runs from LCHS running back Drew Allison. Allison picked up five yards on his first carry, 15 yards on his second carry and scored the game’s first touchdown with a 10-yard run on his third carry.
The Allison touchdown gave the Indians a 6-0 advantage with 7:12 remaining in the first quarter. Will Ramirez added the extra point and the Indians held a 7-0 lead.
The Lumpkin defense gave the Bobcats fits on their second drive of the game, and forced a three-and-out.
A couple of penalties pushed the Indians back and stalled their second drive of the game and Lumpkin was forced to punt the ball.
The Bobcats took advantage of the opportunity and put together a time-consuming drive that eventually led to a two-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper by Gilmer’s Spencer Smith. The 79-yard scoring drive even the score between the Bobcats and the Indians at 7-7 with 5:34 left in the half.
A nice return by Reinhardt on the ensuing kickoff set the Indians up with solid field position at their own 39-yard-line.
Kirk fired a pass to tight end Ryan Burkhart for seven yards to start the drive, getting the ball near midfield.
That is when Dowdy came in.
With Allison banged up, Dowdy replaced him at the running back position and took his first carry 54 yards and into the end zone for the Indians’ second touchdown of the game. Dowdy plowed through a couple defenders and then found himself free to run with several blockers paving his way to the goal line. The extra point attempt was blocked by Gilmer, but Lumpkin retook the lead 13-7 with 4:37 left in the half.
After another stop by the Lumpkin defense, the Indians added three more points to their lead when Ramirez booted a 22-yard field goal with 22.8 seconds left in the second quarter. Ramirez’s kick extended the Indians’ lead to 16-7.
The score remained the same as the two sides went into halftime.
The Bobcats came out of the halftime break with a little trickery when they kicked and recovered an on-side kick to start the second half.
However, three plays into the ensuing drive, Gilmer fumbled the ball. Defensive back Tanner Kirk pounced on the ball to give it back to the Indians.
Pushed back deep in Bobcats’ territory after the fumble recovery, the Indians were unable to get a drive going and were forced to punt after a three-and-out.
On the next drive by Gilmer, the Bobcats got their running game going and six plays later found the end zone to cut the Lumpkin lead to 16-14. The 56-yard drive ended with a 29-yard touchdown run by Smith on a quarterback keeper with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter.
The Indians quickly answered back with a 62-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Dowdy, marking his second of the night. After Ramirez booted the ball through the uprights for the extra point, Lumpkin extended its lead to 23-14.
The Bobcats didn’t let the Dowdy touchdown get them down and quickly marched to the end zone to score another touchdown, this time a one-yard run by Smith. With 10:18 left in the game, Gilmer cut the Indians’ advantage to 23-21.
The Indians’ offense wouldn’t let the Bobcats’ defense rest, however, and Lumpkin took its next drive 81 yards for a touchdown to up their lead to 29-23. The 11-play drive ended when Dowdy bulldozed his way into the end zone on a two-yard carry. Dowdy’s third touchdown of the night gave the Indians’ defense a little breathing room with 3:30 left in the game.
The Indians’ defense wouldn’t allow the Bobcats’ offense to mount a comeback and forced Gilmer into a three-and-out on their final drive of the game.
When the game ended, the jubilation expressed by the Indians’ players and coaches was unbridled and raw creating an incredible atmosphere for Lumpkin fans.
Sorrells credited the hard work that the team put into the week’s worth of practice leading up to the game as being an integral part in helping them earn the victory.
“I am so proud of these guys,” Sorrells said. “Not so much for the win tonight, but for the week of practice they put in. After going 0-3 and getting our tails handed to us two weeks in a row, it was the best practices we have had so far. And, it’s because these kids really want to be different. And, at the end of the day, they won because they want to be different. And, they are willing to put in the work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to be different. I am glad they have finally gotten to see the fruits of their labor.”
Execution on both sides of the ball were far improved for the Indians. Aside from some penalties, the Indians’ offense allowed zero turnovers and the connection between Kirk and center Ricky Hicks was seamless on snaps throughout the game, a problem that plagued Lumpkin in its losses versus White and Jackson counties.
Sorrells credited his players and his coaching staff for buying in and for building a family within the team.
“All 10 of our coaches have bought into the idea of coaching our kids with love,” Sorrells said. “They have worked hard to build relationships and coach these kids, and the kids have responded well to that.”
With the team having a bye scheduled for this Friday night, the Indians will get an extra week to enjoy their first victory of the 2019 season.
The LCHS varsity football team will return to the gridiron when they host region rival Dawson County at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field on Friday, Sept. 27. The game will mark the start of Region 7-AAA play for Lumpkin. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.