By Maurice Patton
SUMMERTOWN – Overlooking Thursday’s foe wasn’t the issue for Lawrence County.
Facing Summertown on its home field for the first time, the Wildcats may have been too ready.
But despite eight penalties for 100 yards, Lawrence County made enough plays to virtually control the rivalry matchup from start to finish and eventually grab a 24-19 “Battle of the Buffalo” victory that wasn’t without its excitement to the very end.
“I think we were ready. The probably was we were too hyped up,” veteran Wildcats coach David Marston said. “We’ve got to be more focused. We played with a lot of intensity. We’ve got to play smarter.”
Of Lawrence County’s eight infractions, three were for unsportsmanlike conduct and a fourth was a personal foul face mask.
“This is kind of like ‘big brother/little brother’,” Summertown coach Leslie Mote said regarding the series, which is only in its second year – the Wildcats (4-5) won 16-0 a year ago at Lawrenceburg’s Hendrix-Staggs Stadium, where the Eagles played their home games during their inaugural season in 2015.
“We told them, they’re going to come in and try to bully you. But our kids didn’t quit.”
The visitors got on the scoreboard first Thursday, driving 74 yards to open the game. After a 6-yard Alex Carr pass to Hayden Dale was waved off when Dale was ruled to not have have possession at the pylon, Lawrence County settled for a Ben Craig 23-yard field goal to cap an eight-minute-plus march.
Summertown (3-5) countered with its own field-goal drive, with Austin Abbott converting a 35-yarder two minutes into the second period, and was set up to move ahead after Michael Abbott intercepted a Carr pass in the red zone and returned it to near midfield. However, the Eagles were unable to pick up a first down, and an errant punt snap led to an 11-yard Carr touchdown run for a 10-3 halftime margin.
Coming out of intermission, Summertown put together another impressive drive – going 69 yards on 13 plays and tying the game on a 20-yard Colton Shaffer pass to Javen Edmiston.
The next two possessions virtually decided the game, though, as Carr scored on a 9-yard run three snaps into the fourth quarter and Aniken Johnson’s fumble deep in Wildcat territory was recovered by Luke Nichols and returned 80 yards for a two-TD margin with 7:49 remaining.
“I’m glad to get the win, but we’ve got to be smarter and get rid of the penalties,” Marston said. “Hopefully we can build off this and play smarter, more disciplined football.”
Shaffer’s 5-yard run with 2:02 left pulled Summertown to within a score, but Lawrence County ran off the remaining time after recovering the Eagles’ onside kick attempt. That didn’t come without a hiccup, though, as Carr’s scramble out of the end zone drew a holding penalty that forced a free kick with no time on the clock. Summertown fielded the kick and attempted to advance the ball with a series of laterals, but the visitors eventually recovered to end the contest.
“That’s probably the best game we’ve had offensively; we executed,” Mote said. “We just came up a bit short, but they had a lot to do with that.”
Carr finished with a game-high 75 rushing yards for Lawrence County, which travels to Spring Hill in Region 4-4A play in the regular-season finale for both teams. Summertown closes the regular season at Region 5-2A foe Community.
Lawrence Co. 24, Summertown 19
L 3 7 0 14 – 24
S 0 3 7 9 – 19
|L – Ben Craig 23 field goal (3:28)|
|S – Austin Abbott 35 field goal (9:54)|
|L – Alex Carr 11 run (1:04), Craig kick|
|S – Javen Edmiston 20 pass from Colton Shaffer (3:16),|
|L – Carr 9 run (10:36), Craig kick|
|L – Luke Nichols 80 fumble return (7:49), Craig kick|
|S – Shaffer 5 run (2:02), Abbott kick|
|S – Safety: Carr runs out of end zone (0:00)|
|Lawrence Co. – Alex Carr 21-75, Samuel Bradley 8-40, Luke|
Nichols 4-3, Tay Everly 3-1, Jordan Brewer 1-(-4), Team 3-(-12)
|Summertown – Colton Shaffer 11-50, Aniken Johnson 10-48,|
Javen Edmiston 8-38, Team 2-(-24)
|Lawrence Co. – Alex Carr 6-8-1, 112|
|Summertown – Colton Shaffer 9-12-0, 64|
|Lawrence Co. – Hayden Dale 4-82, Kaiden Matney 2-30|
|Summertown – Javen Edmiston 4-29, Justus Gray 1-(-1), Gavin|