Gordon Lee defense smothers LaFayette
Pass-happy offenses putting up video gamelike numbers are all the rage in high school football these days.
But sometimes there is simply no substitute for a good, old-fashioned running game, complimented by a good, old-fashioned run defense.
Gordon Lee proved that on Friday night.
The Trojans racked up 276 of their 292 yards on the ground and limited LaFayette to just 140 yards rushing (161 total) in a solid 28-7 victory over the Ramblers at Jack King Stadium.
LaFayette had two more rushing attempts than Gordon Lee (4442), but it was the Trojans who ran the ball better, nearly doubling LaFayette’s output on the ground. An even 100 of LaFayette’s total yards came in the final 9:37 after the Trojans had built an insurmountable 28-0 lead.
Gordon Lee’s defense allowed just 37 total yards and two first downs in the opening half. One of the first downs came on a Trojan penalty.
Gordon Lee head coach Greg Ellis gave credit to the work that defensive coordinator Josh Groce was doing on that side of the ball.
“We’ve really worked hard since Josh came back on board and you can see what’s happening,” Ellis said. “These guys are playing their hearts out.”
The Trojans’ opening score came on its second possession as
they covered 51 yards in 10 plays, taking 4:15 off the clock. A big 19-yard catch on third down by Hunter Hodson keyed the march as Braden Jarvis capped it with a 1-yard run with 1:39 left in the first period.
Gordon Lee’s defense set up the next touchdown as Cordell Langford recovered a fumble inside the Rambler 30. One play later, Jarvis went around left end and broke a tackle for a 28yard scoring run. Jarrett Lassetter, who went 4-of-4 on extra points, gave the Trojans a 14-0 lead at intermission.
Hodson’s 30-yard gain on a reverse early in the third highlighted an eight-play, 64yard drive. Fullback Harrison Moore did the honors on a 5-yard run off a trap play and quarterback Austin Thompson closed out the scoring with 9:42 left in the game, fooling the LaFayette defense with a beautiful fake handoff before waltzing the final two yards into the endzone.
Scoring opportunities were few and far between for LaFayette, whose first snap in Gordon Lee territory came after Cody Deal recovered a Trojan fumble at the Gordon Lee 16 with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
However, a chop block penalty on third down backed the Ramblers up to the Gordon Lee 29 and two incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Trojans on downs.
LaFayette would move across Gordon Lee’s side of the 50yard line three times in the final 9:37, but the first two drives ended on fourth down and time ran out on the Ramblers’ final possession as they came up empty on three straight passes from the Trojans’ 12-yard line.
The Ramblers’ lone score came on the defense side of the ball as Tyler Beard stripped the ball and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown with 3:33 to play. It was Beard’s second strip and recovery of the night.
Jarvis led the way with 173 yards and two scores on 23 carries for the Trojans, while Thompson had just 16 yards passing on 2-of-9 attempts. Jarvis tried one halfback pass in the first half, which was intercepted by LaFayette defensive back Austin Rodgers.
Alan Hu had 68 of his team-high 75 yards rushing in the final period. Ty Fisher was 4-of-16 on the air for just 21 yards.
Ellis said having a week off following their season-opening 20-19 loss at Dade County was extremely beneficial to his team.
“That was big,” he added. “We wanted to play early and we had our chances to win that game. I thought our kids played really hard tonight. We still made a couple of mistakes, but it’s still early in the season.”
Gordon Lee (1-1) will be at home this Friday to take on LFO, while LaFayette (1-2) will head to Calhoun to face Gordon Central.
LaFayette defenders Tyler Beard (26) and Andrew Pendergrass (27) look to bat down a pass from Gordon Lee quarterback Austin Thompson. The Trojans controlled the ground game on both sides of the ball and claimed a 28-7 win at Jack King Stadium. (Photo by Keith Deal)