They had them right where they wanted them.
Ask any Lawrence County coach if they would have taken being down 21-20 early in the fourth quarter against Jasper, and the answer would have been a resounding yes. Unfortunately, they just didn’t have enough steam Friday night to finish it out.
The Red Devils fell to Jasper 42-20 in a Class 5A, Region 7 matchup. It was a sour end to a game that saw the Red Devils go toe-to-toe with the state’s top-ranked 5A team.
“These boys fought their guts out,” said head coach Rich Dutton. “They did everything they could to put us in position to compete with a team like Jasper, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
"Did everything they could" is right, as the Devils' every drive in the game’s first three quarters ended in Jasper territory.
They also scored touchdowns any way they could. Deonte Averett scored the Devils' first touchdown on a 44-yard fake punt, and Kaden Edwards tied the game just before halftime with a kickoff return for a score.
Brody Sparks returned an interception 80 yards to cut Jasper's lead to 21-20 in the fourth quarter.
Eventually though, Jasper’s superior size and depth wore down the Devils, as the Vikings scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away.
The No. 1 team in Class 5A looked every bit its ranking as it scored all six of its touchdowns on the ground behind its hulking offensive lineman and linebacker-sized running backs.
For Lawrence County, had the Devils been able to turn their successful drives into more points, the end result might have been different. The Red Devils had a field goal blocked on the opening drive and turned it over on downs multiple times, despite moving the ball successfully between the 20s.
“We have to be able to get the run game going better,” Dutton said. “It’s one thing to move between the 20s, but when you get down in the red zone and the field shrinks, it becomes more difficult.”
It’s gut check time for the Red Devils now as they must win their final two region games to make the playoffs. Last year, they faltered after losses to Russellville and Jasper.
“Our leadership has to make sure they’re doing the right things, and we have to learn from last year so it doesn’t happen again,” Dutton said. “These next two teams are not easy teams. They’re both well coached. So we have to focus on the little things and make sure we’re putting ourselves in the best position to try and pull this off.”
Lawrence County will host Hamilton next week. Hamilton pulled off an upset of No. 3 Russellville, 17-0.