Lamar ends season short of state championship
By Don Gearhart
A State Championship is a goal for any High School sports team and Lamar is no exception, especially when the Silver Foxes have won as many titles as they have in their illustrious career. Facing an undefeated Johnsonville Golden Flashes on their opponents home turf, the Silver Foxes appeared to be fairly even with Johnsonville based on how each performed against four common opponents. Johnsonville received the opening kickoff and could not move the chains. Lamar didn’t fair any better and two series in, only the punters had any impact on moving the ball from one end of the field to the other. On the Golden Flashes second try, they did manage to get to their own 43-yard line before punting the ball back to the Silver Foxes. Lamar ran for five yards, then lost a yard. On third down, Tavis Doford’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. This was the third time in the last two games that a Silver Foxes turnover resulted in a score for the opposing team. The point-after kick was true and the Golden Flashes took the initial lead at 7-0 with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, an electrifying return by Tavion Mcphail gave Lamar excellent field position at the Johnsonville 40-yard line. An offsides penalty against the Golden Flashes moved the ball five yards closer to paydirt. On the first play from scrimmage, Lamar opted to surprise Johnsonville with a pass play. It was nearly same result as on their previous play when the pass was intercepted and returned for another touchdown. The score was negated when a Johnsonville player was flagged for an illegal block placing the ball on the Golden Flashes 47-yard line. Unable to advance for a first down, Lamar took over on their own 10-yard line after a booming punt pinned them deep Mcphail rushed for ten yards, then an offsides penalty by Johnsonville moved the ball out of the shadow of the Lamar goal line to the 25-yard line. Mcphail almost broke the next play for a Lamar score with a scintillating 55-yard dash to the Johnsonville 20-yard line.
The quarter ended with Lamar in scoring position but four plays later, the Silver Foxes turned the ball over on downs and the Golden Flashes ran off six plays. A bad snap that sailed over the Johnsonville quarterback’s head almost resulted in a turnover for Lamar but the Golden Flashes were able to cover the loose ball and were forced to punt. Lamar managed one first down before having to punt the ball back to Johnsonville. With most of the plays from both teams the result of rushing attempts, the second quarter flew by with no additional scoring.
The first possession of the third quarter did not show any improvement by Lamar as the Golden Flashes played most of their defenders close to the ball in anticipation of Silver Foxes run game. A good punt pinned the Golden Flashes at their own 18-yard line and a holding penalty moved them back ten yards. On third down, a Johnsonville rush turned into what would become the game-breaker as the 57-yard gain put them inside the Lamar 20-yard line. From there, the Golden Flashes capitalized for the touchdown with 5:48 to play and tacked on the extra point to make the score 14-0. The Silver Foxes gained a couple of first downs to run out the quarter.
Continuing what would be an eight-play drive aided by four Johnsonville penalties, Lamar moved the ball to the Golden Flashes 20-yard line before running out of downs. Johnsonville had several long runs to move the ball inside the Red Zone, but lost a fumble at the Lamar 17-yard line with 8:38 to play. Unable to move the sticks, Lamar was forced to punt. Johnsonville’s possession wasn’t much better but they did manage to run down the clock. With 3:30 to play, Lamar was not able to gain any traction and a fourth down pass was incomplete and the Golden Flashes took over with under two minutes left in the game. Lamar got the ball back with 1:15 left and tried passing their way into scoring position. They simply ran out of time.
The Silver Foxes ended their season with a 9-4 record and a young team has every reason to believe that their fate would be better next year. Mcphail was able to gain 100 yards on 20 carries to lead the Silver Foxes on offense.