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 top ranked 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 top ranked Jasper 42-20. It was a sour end to a game that saw them go toe to toe with the state’s top ranked 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 had every drive in the game’s first three quarters end in Jasper territory.
They also scored touchdowns in any way they could. Deonte Averett scored the Devil’s first touchdown on a 44 yard fake punt and Kaden Edwards tied the game just before halftime with a kickoff returned for a score.
Brody Sparks returned an interception to the house 80 yards to cut the lead 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 the state looked every bit their ranking as they scored all six of their touchdowns on the ground behind their hulking offensive lineman and linebacker sized running backs.
For Lawrence County, had they been able to turn their successful drives into more points, perhaps the end result would have been different. The Devils had a field goal blocked on the opening drive and turned it over on downs multiple times, despite moving it 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 redzone and the field shrinks, it becomes more difficult.”
It’s gutcheck time for the Red Devils now as they must win their final two region games to make the playoffs. Last year they lost two tough games to Russellville and Jasper and then fell apart, missing the playoffs for the first time in several years.
A repeat performance will not be what Lawrence County is looking for.
“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 who just pulled off a shocking upset of No. 3 Russellville.