Traveling to Reform to face-off against the Pickens County Tornadoes on Friday, Oct. 14, the Lion football team knew in advance that the task at hand would be difficult. Not only were the Lions fighting to keep their unbeaten record on the season but they were also hoping to depart with the win to remain on top in Region 5 rankings. The Lions won the coin toss, electing to receive with Dax Benton fielding the opening kick at the 17-yard line advancing to the Lions 45-yard line.
The Lions put together their first possession of the night with the rushing attacks of Benton and Tanner Upton. Facing second down and goal at the 3-yard line, Lion quarterback Ethan Nichols called his own number and took the ball into the end zone for the first points of the game with 5:23 remaining in the opening quarter. The PAT kick by Benton was unsuccessful.
The Tornadoes started their first possession at their own 27-yard line after the return man was met by Tatt Huffman and Ryan Breubaker for the take-down. The Lion defense held strong with stops by Huffman, Lathan Holliday, Upton, Benton and Nichols, Pickens County drove the ball down inside the Lions red zone to the 9-yard line but on first down Huffman burst into the backfield and sacked the Tornadoes quarterback for an 11-yard loss. The Tornadoes changed their attack and went to the passing game but coverage by Brubaker and Nichols left them scoreless on their opening possession. The Lions took over on downs at their own 20-yard line and sticking with the rushing attack of Benton, Upton and Holliday successful moved the ball downfield erasing time from the clock as the first quarter came to a close. Sticking with the rushing attack of Benton, Upton and Holliday proved successful as Holliday took the hand-off and fought his way into the end zone for the score with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter. The two point conversion failed leaving the score 12 - 0.
The Tornadoes took Bentons ensuing kick to the end zone for the quick six and the two point conversion brought the score to 8 - 12 in favor of the Lions with 5:18 remaining in the first half.
Benton returned the ensuing kick out to the Lions 45-yard line and with the snap of the ball he advanced the ball across mid-field to the first down marker. The Pickens County defense stepped up and held the Lions forcing Holliday to punt the ball a away on fourth down with the ball rolling to a stop at the 12-yard line. Three plays later the Tornadoes added additional points and following the successful two point conversion the scoreboard showed the home team taking the lead 16 - 12. Holliday recovered the ensuing kick setting the Lion offense up at their own 42-yard line. Benton took the direct snap on first down around right end moving the ball into Pickens County territory and with the snap on first down he continued pushing the ball deeper to the 35-yard line. Sticking with the ground game of Benton and Upton, the Lions found themselves facing fourth down and ten at the 35-yard line. Benton once again took the direct snap racing around the left end to the 20 yard line keeping the drive alive for the Lions. Three plays later Benton connected on a pass in the left side of end zone with Zachary Hubbert and the Likns regained the lead as time expired on the first half. Nichols pass fell short and incomplete on the two point conversion leaving the score 18 - 16 in favor of the Lions.
Pickens County received the second half opening kick and with the snap of the ball on first down they took the ball to the end zone regaining the lead. The two point conversion was successful and the score stood 24 - 18.
The Lions first possession of the second half came to a haulting stop with Holliday faking to punt the ball away on fourth down but theTornadoes remained focused with the defense breaking into the backfield for the tackle on Holliday at the 46-yard line. Misery continued for the Lions as the Tornadoes quarterback took the ball to the end zone on first down for another quick score in the second half. With 8:21remaining in the third quarter Pickens County continued to build their lead 30 - 18. The two point conversation
was unsuccessful with Brady Tucker, Upton and Benton making the stop.
Benton fielded the ensuing kick at the 5-yard line racing up field and across midfield into Pickens County territory but the play was called back as the Lions were penalized for a block in the back on the return. Starting at their own 28-yard line with strong rushing attacks by Upton, Benton and Holliday keeping the ball on the ground attack to erase additional time off the clock and with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter Holliday took the hand off and fought his way across the goal line for his second rushing touchdown on the night and bringing the score back to within five points following Bentons successful kick on the PAT.
The Tornadoes wasted very little time taking the ensuing kick back down field and facing first down at the Lions 40-yard line, the pass connection added an additional six points to the home side of the scoreboard. The two point conversion failed leaving the score at 36 - 25 with 0:33 seconds remain in the quarter. The Tornadoes defense stood strong on the Lions ensuing possession forcing Holliday to boot the ball away after three downs. Three plays later the Tornadoes quarterback called his own number racing straight up the middle for the score. Following the successful conversion on the PAT Pickens County lead 42 - 25.
Holliday made the reception on the ensuing kick advancing from the 35-yard line to the 45-yard line setting Nichols and the Lions offense up. Benton took the direct snap on first down fighting his way down to the 25-yard line for the thirty yard rushing gain. The rushing attack continued with Upton and Holliday moving the ball deeper to the 20-yard line and on fourth down Benton connected on a pass with Trey Snow who fought off would be tacklers taking the ball to just inside the 10-yard line for the first down. With the snap of the ball Benton raced into the end zone. The PAT kick by Benton was no good leaving the score standing at 42 - 31 in favor of the Tornadoes with 6:57 remaining in the game.
Pickens County took the ensuing kick and utilized six plays to reach the end zone. The two point conversion was successful with 3:27 remaining on the game clock.
The Lions offensive front closed out their evening with their last possession by utilizing Upton, Nichols and Benton on the rushing attack with Benton fighting for yardage around the left end and racing full speed down field for the final score of the game with 18 seconds remaining. The two point conversion failed leaving the final score standing at 50 - 37 in favor of the home standing Tornadoes.
Game captains for the Lions were Dax Benton, Trey Snow and Tre Tranum.
This week the Lions will celebrate homecoming and finish out Region Five play by hosting the Brilliant Tigers. Game time is 7:00p.m.
Comments from Head Coach Lamar Harris:
"Our guys really played extremely hard tonight. I'm proud of the effort and the gut to hang in there and I knew we would have to fight for it all the way until the end. However I do think that we could have executed a little better on our tackling and maybe the outcome of the game may have been different. With that said, Pickens County is packed with speed and have players who can make good maneuvering moves once they get the ball in their hands. That coupled with their speed, our guys just couldn't make the needed adjustments to defend. I am overall pleased with the team, we followed our game plan and the guys executed it very well, but the difference tonight was the speed of several of Pickens County's players."