PREP RECAP: Lee wallops Lanier; Edgewood extends streak
By Tim Gayle
It was a rivalry that once shaped the city’s gridiron landscape, but lately Robert E. Lee has had a dominating role in the annual matchup with Sidney Lanier.
Thursday’s season opener at Cramton Bowl was more of the same. The Generals struggled through a horrible first half before thrashing the Poets in the second half on the way to a 34-0 victory.
The 34 points were the most by Lee since 2013 and the most in a win since beating Booker T. Washington 40-18 on Nov. 2, 2012. The Class 7A Generals continued their domination over the Class 5A Poets, winning for seventh consecutive time. Five of those games have been shutouts.
“Special teams jump-started us, then we were able to make some adjustments in the second half,” Lee coach Tyrone Rogers said. “The guys came out and made plays. I think they relaxed a little more.”
The Generals (1-0) scored the only points of the first half with 2:37 remaining in the second quarter when Daniel Thomas fielded a bouncing punt on the 11 and returned it through the heart of the Lanier special teams unit on an 89-yard scoring return. Jarod Grandalski added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
“We started out slow,” Lee quarterback Shaquille Johnson said. “Then when he ran it back, we just gained the momentum. After that, we just took the game.”
Johnson, who completed 15 of 17 passes for 232 yards, found Marquis Johnson behind the defense on the right sideline for a 19-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, added a 9-yard scoring run moments later and finished the scoring outburst with a 41-yard pass to Daimion Wright for a 27-0 lead late in the third quarter.
He closed out the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown pass with eight minutes left to Henry Ruggs, who had 86 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
“I felt pretty good because I know what Ruggs can do,” Johnson said. “We’ve been grinding all summer so I know when he and I connect, it’s a wrap.”
Johnson’s passing offset a performance that saw Lee manage just 32 rushing yards on 24 attempts. Even worse, the Generals had 17 penalties for 128 yards, including eight for illegal procedure.
“Those types of things will kill you,” Rogers said. “We’ve just got to go back and work on those penalties. We’ll take this win. Any win you can get is a good one, but we play another good team next week. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot and we did a lot of that tonight. But we were able to make some plays to overcome that adversity and that was a good thing.”
Lanier (0-1) picked up just one first down in the second half, that coming on a 71-yard pass from James Foster to Marquis Phillips that accounted for all but 30 yards of Lanier’s total offensive output. The Poets had more penalty yards (64) than total yards (55) in the second half and finished with seven penalties for 99 yards. Four of those were personal foul penalties.
Edgewood extends winning streak
Nathan Rourke threw four touchdown passes in his Edgewood debut and Maurice Young added an insurance touchdown midway through the fourth quarter as the Wildcats extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 59 games with a 33-21 win over defending AAA state champion Escambia Academy on Thursday night at Faulkner University.
Rourke threw all of his touchdown passes in the first half as the Wildcats clung to a 26-21 halftime lead. Young finally put the game out of reach with a 5-yard run from Wildcat formation with 5:20 remaining in the game.
Jackson Tate put Edgewood on the board first with a spectacular 35-yard scoring play, taking a pass from Rourke in the left flat and hurdling a would-be tackler at the 15 on the way to the end zone. Kris Brown countered with a 59-yard touchdown run to give Escambia a brief 7-6 lead before Rourke cranked up again with touchdown passes of 12 and 36 yards to Daniel Green for an 18-7 lead.
Brown added another touchdown, this one on a 9-yard run midway through the second quarter, but Rourke came back with a 22-yard touchdown pass to David Poole for a 26-14 lead with 65 seconds left in the first half.
Edgewood (1-0) returns home to play Coosa Valley next Friday, while Escambia (0-1) will be at home against Autauga in both teams’ region opener.