WEST MADISON – It wasn’t exactly against one of the state’s elite teams, but Scott High School’s football team got on the winning track for the 2013 season and notched a win over a Triple A team in outrunning visiting Lincoln County High, 46-21, at the Scott Field.
Viewed as arguably the worse team in the state’s biggest class and one of the poorest in the state overall, Lincoln County nevertheless put up a fight early in the contest.
A crowd that filled about a third of the visiting stands and a large home group watched as the Skyhawks methodically picked apart the porous Panther defense.
Senior running back Cameron Loftus led the Hawks on offense, scoring five touchdowns. He rushed for 172 yards on 13 carries during the evening.
In fact, Loftus got the scoring parade started early. With just 16 seconds off the clock, Loftus broke up the left side for a 60-yard touchdown. With the home crowd in an uproar, Dezmond Cordero added the extra-point kick and it was 7-0, Hawks.
That set the tone for the home opener after Scott had fallen to Cardinal Conference rival Herbert Hoover in a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde scenario the previous week. The Hawks came out looking like champions and built a solid lead at Falling Rock before appearing to lose all their strength and stamina in the second half on the way to a humiliating one-touchdown loss.
All week, according to Scott Head Coach Shane Griffith, his players and coaches focused on building strength and endurance for the squad. It apparently paid off as there was no second-half fold against Lincoln County.
Lincoln County took their first possession on the 35-yard-line after Cordero’s kick rolled out of bounds. After carries by Blake Taylor, Zack McGhee and Chaz Wiley, the Panthers faced a fourth-and-five. The Panther kicker lined up as if to punt but began running laterally with the ball. That led to a roughing the kicker penalty when Scott’s player ran into him after he finally lifted the ball into the air. The result was a Lincoln County first down at their own 45.
After a running play, a pitch to Blake Taylor gave the Panthers a first down at the Scott 34. A false start called on Lincoln County at the 9:20 mark took the ball back to a first-and-15.
Three straight Panther losses on downs led to a fourth-and-21 and Taylor, the punter, lined up again to kick.
This time, Taylor finally decided to carry the ball, coming up one-yard short of a first down with 6:59 remaining in the first period.
Scott faced third-and-16 before a pass to Michael Belcher gave the Hawks a first down at the Lincoln County 42. Running a form of a hurry-up offense most of the night, senior quarterback Cody Brown rushed the team downfield. Tristen Crone picked up a first down at the 21 with 4:34 on the clock. After a penalty negated a Scott first down, a Brown pass picked up a first and goal at the nine. Following a series of miscues, the Hawks faced fourth and goal at the 11. Cordero came in to try a field goal, which was short and to the left so the score remained at 7-0 with 2:13 flashing on the clock.
Starting their offensive possession at the 20, an offside call gave the Panthers a new first down at the 32. The quarter ended with Lincoln County looking at a second-and-six.
Two plays later, Mike Taylor punted the ball back to Scott at the 41. After a Hawk timeout, Dehart took in a Brown pass and Scott was again on the move. When Dehart could not pick up a first down, the Panthers took over the ball at the 32. Then, Scott recovered a Panther fumble at the 34. On the next snap, Scott proved the fumblitis was contagious, losing the ball back to Lincoln County at the 30. Wiley quickly broke free for a Panther score. Jake Ashley’s extra-point kick made it 7-7.
After a Cordero extra-point kick was blocked, the Panthers went to work on offense, but Scott got the ball back. With 4:14 remaining in the half, Loftus went in from one-yard out and it was 13-7, Hawks. This time, Cordero’s extra-point kick was blocked.
Less than a minute later, Wiley broke free for a 74-yard touchdown run and it was 13-13 as the Panther fans celebrated their good fortune. Ashley’s kick put Lincoln County on top for the first, and last, time of the evening, 14-13 with 3:19 flickering.
Loftus brought Hawk fans back into the game by scampering in from nine yards out at the 1:43 mark. The two-point conversion pass try from Brown to Elijah Price was incomplete, leaving the score at 19-14.
Lincoln County again started from their 35 after a Cordero kick rolled out of bounds. It didn’t take long for Scott to strike again, however. A pass interception led to a Hawk first down at the 14. Then, Loftus rushed in from that point with 59 ticks left on the clock to make it 25-14. Again, the two-point conversion try failed and the teams raced to their locker rooms with the home squad holding an 11-point lead.
Cordero kicked to start the second half. After the Panthers failed on their first offensive possession, Scott got the ball at their own 35. Loftus then took off on a 65-yard touchdown scamper to make it 31-14 with 9:45 remaining in the third. Cordero’s kick was good.
After taking possession, Lincoln County picked up a first down at the 36 after a personal foul call against Scott. A keeper by quarterback Grant Bates led to a fourth-and-three. The Panthers then turned the ball over to Scott on downs at the Panther 42 with 7:27 remaining.
Again, the Hawks had trouble fielding a snap and Lincoln County recovered at the 42. Penalties contributed to Lincoln County’s failure to move the ball and they were forced to punt. As in every case, the punter consistently looked to run or pass before finally booting the ball.
With 6:05, Belcher ran for a first down at the Panther 27. A minute later, he gave the home squad a first down at the 12.
Triston Crone then rammed into the end zone, putting Scott up, 38-14 with 5:10 showing in the quarter. Cordero’s extra-point kick increased the margin to 25 points.
There was no further scoring in the third period with Scott holding its comfortable lead over the AAA squad. Victories for Class AA Scott over Triple A teams add significant points to the Hawks in the state rankings.
With 10:58 left in the game, Loftus scored his and Scott’s final touchdown of the evening, raging in from the 15. Again, Cordero’s kick was good and it was 46-14.
There was no further scoring until Bates kept the ball and toted it into the end zone for a Panther touchdown with 3:40 left. Ashley’s point-after kick was good to set the final margin at 46-21.
Regarding Loftus’s performance, Coach Griffith said, “He’s a senior, he’s worked his hind end off for four years, he was special honorable mention all-state last year and there’s a lot of expectations on him. He’s just a downhill runner.”
Observers noted that the current Skyhawk team is showing much more interest in the passing game than in many years past. Brown completed eight of 15 passes for 150 yards, for instance. “Cody Brown is a senior leader, he’s on the basketball team so he’s been in a lot of big games in both sports,” Griffith said. “He’s worked real hard this offseason on his arm strength and he throws a nice pass. We’ve got a lot of versatility to work with.”
Griffith added that he felt the speedier offensive sets contributed to the win.
The coach said he had a “list of 25 things I did wrong” in the opening loss to Hoover. “I tried to make adjustments and I told the team they needed to look at their shortcomings and make adjustments, too,” Griffith said.
“We’ve used a style of offense over the last decade that is a slow-paced offense. This year we’re going with a dynamic, upbeat pace and we didn’t adjust our conditioning to compensate for it. We learned last week. Tonight we were able to do a little bit of platooning in the first half, we got some extra guys on the field, and I think it gave us some extra gas in the third quarter and it was huge for us,” the skipper added.
Crone recorded 75 yards on 11 carries while Michael Belcher hauled in five catches for 92 yards for the Skyhawks, who evened their season record at 1-1 going into this week’s “Corridor G Rivalry” game with Chapmanville.
Wiley ended with 167 yards on 14 rushes for the Panthers, who fell to 0-2 including an opening-season slaughter at the hands of Point Pleasant. Taylor gained 113 yards on 26 carries. Bates managed just nine yards passing on one-of-five throwing and threw two interceptions for hapless Lincoln County, traditionally one of the state’s poorest teams since its inception in Hamlin.
Many top athletes from Lincoln County attend high school at other locales. Roberts is a member of the Scott roster and players from the Alum Creek area often attend George Washington, St. Albans or South Charleston highs since consolidation of the late Duval, Hamlin and Guyan Valley high schools seven years ago. Students from the former Harts High attend high school at Chapmanville Regional High School.
As noted, Scott will try to keep the momentum going this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium in Chapmanville.