On a damp field with the weather in the mid-60s, Alcovy, looking for its first win in 17 games, gave the 2-2 Lamar County Trojans a huge scare late, but penalties and turnovers plagued the Tigers as they fell to the Trojans, 20-7.
Alcovy got the crowd going to begin the game as Chris Stewart returned the opening kickoff down to the Lamar County six-yard line. The Tigers, unfortunately, weren’t able to capitalize off the early momentum.
Lamar bottled up the raining game for two straight plays and an Alcovy pass attempt was deflected on third down. Alcovy decided to go for it on fourth down on a fake field goal attempt, but the Trojans sniffed out the play and stuffed the Tigers to force a turnover on downs.
Alcovy, playing unusually fast on defense, was able to put a chokehold on Lamar County’s triple option rushing attack on the Trojans’ first drive. After one quick first down for Lamar County, Stewart recorded a sack on third down and long after an illegal shift penalty pushed the Trojans back.
Sophomore QB Quindrelin Hammonds picked up nine yards on Alcovy’s ensuing drive, but the Tigers were a couple yards short of a first down and were forced to punt.
“We’ve talked to the kids, ‘Hey, you gotta play fast. You gotta play physical.’ And we’re getting there every down. It’s like I told my d-end, we just gotta find that play to turn the corner,” Kirk Hoffman, Alcovy head coach, said.
With the ball back, Lamar County was able to turn its second drive into points. The running game and one huge helmet-to-helmet penalty gave the Trojans the ball at the Alcovy 14-yard line. The Tigers, however, wouldn’t budge and forced an overthrow on third down. The Trojans elected to punt and took a 3-0 lead over Alcovy to begin the second quarter.
Alcovy’s following possession was its ugliest of the night. A three-and-out turned into a bad snap on the punt attempt on fourth down and the punter took off trying to make something out of nothing, but the Trojans were quick to make the tackle to get the ball back at the Tigers’ 17-yard line.
Lamar County scored a touchdown off of a play-action pass on the second play of the ensuing possession to take a 10-0 lead with 9:12 to play in the game.
Alcovy’s run-heavy offense took time off the clock and effectively helped the Tigers move the ball down the field. On third-and-17 it was Hammonds ability to throw the ball that picked up a big first down for the Tigers.
Hammonds dropped back with time to survey the field and go get a drink of water if he so pleased to find fellow sophomore Jaylon Lackey for a 33-yard completion to get the ball into Trojan territory. A few of successful runs gave Alcovy the ball at the Lamar County eight-yard line. Hammonds rushed up the middle and the ball was punched out and recovered by Lamar County – the Tigers’ second unsuccessful possession in the red zone.
“Anytime you’re down there you gotta score,” Hoffman said. “I’m just proud of the way my kids came out and played. If you look at the way we played tonight compared to the first ball game [we’ve made] huge gains. That’s a good football team. They were in the state finals a year ago. We just gotta keep plugging away. I can’t say enough about Hammonds at quarterback, some of the things that he’s done. Robert Black on defense, No. 5, he’s just a player. We battled and battled. We had our chances…I’m proud of my kids.”
The Trojans ran the ball well on their final drive of the half and got into Alcovy territory before a clipping penalty sent them back into their own territory and eventually ended the half. LJ Smith, Lamar County’s starting QB was injured on the clipping penalty play and never returned to the game as sophomore Malik Collier took over for Smith, as the Tigers went to halftime trailing 10-0.
Lamar County was able to get a field goal to begin the half and increase its lead to 13-0 with 6:16 to play in the third quarter. Alcovy answered the scoring drive with a touchdown drive of its own – their second of the season.
Three different Alcovy running backs began the drive by ripping off runs of 10, eight and 15 on the Tigers first three plays from scrimmage. Hammonds was sacked for a loss of four yards after Alcovy got its second first down of the drive. Hammonds picked up two yards on the next play before being sacked on third-and-12. The sack, fortunately for Alcovy, was negated on a late hit and the ball was moved to the Lamar County 31.
Three plays later, Hammonds used the read option to find the hole and took off for a 21-yard touchdown run to bring Alcovy within six points, trailing 13-7.
A good return on the kickoff gave the Trojans the ball at their own 47-yard line. The Trojans were able to pick up a couple of first downs with haste before a holding penalty pushed them back and Alcovy’s defense was able to force a field goal on fourth-and-14.
The snap was low and fumbled, the Trojans were going for a fake and the QB scrambled right with pressure breathing down his neck he saw a receiver wide open, but the Tigers’ defense was too much and the throw was way off.
Alcovy had the ball with 8:45 left to play and a chance to take a final lead. The Tigers dropped back to pass on second and third down, but both plays fell incomplete and they were forced to punt. By the time Alcovy got the ball back again it was too late.
The Trojans couldn’t be stopped on the next drive. Twice Alcovy had broken into the backfield and essentially had a tackle for loss, but each time the running backs for Lamar County were able to shake off a plethora of hits and get loose for a first down. Lamar County got down to the one-yard line and ran it in for the touchdown to put the game away up 20-7 with 2:14 left to play.
“I can’t say enough about all three of ‘em [Chris Stewart, Hammonds, James Bell]. They’re buying in. Demetrius Tuggle didn’t play tonight, who’s another one that can get back there and make some things happen. I thought Chris Stewart had an outstanding game on both sides. I thought Robert Black and Lackey made some good catches downfield. We’re getting there, we just gotta keep working,” Hoffman said.
Alcovy has undergone a drastic improvement from the beginning of the season until now. They will face Lakeside at home next Friday at 7:30 p.m.