GREENVILLE – Mistakes lose football games. Eliminating mistakes wins them.
It didn’t seem quite so simple for the Laurens Raiders until Friday night, when they overwhelmed J.L. Mann, 42-14.
Laurens (3-5, 2-3 Region 1-5A) forced four Patriots turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles – and yielded only one. In the season’s first seven games, LDHS had gifted the opposition 14 more times than it had been gifted in return.
Chris Liner, Laurens’ head coach, had informed his team many times that fewer mistakes might help.
“That was awesome to see,” he said. “We finally won the turnover battle. You keep thinking it can’t happen forever.”
With Shamare Dendy and Duane Martin rushing for two touchdowns apiece, the matchup with hapless Mann (0-8, 0-5) wasn’t much of one from the opening drive, when Dendy, who finished with 113 yards, and Martin, who had 91, took turns ramming into, around and through the Patriots for 44 yards in five plays. Dendy got the celebration with an 18-yard run with 9:32 showing on the first-period clock.
Mann’s first play was nullified by penalty. Mann’s second play was a completion followed by an LDHS unsportsmanlike conduct. On Mann’s third play, quarterback Noah Staples tossed an interception. Conner Owens corraled it at the Patriot 28, and five plays later, Martin scored. The second of Devon Hubner’s six PATs put the Raiders up 14-0 with the game only five minutes old.
“We took control of the game right away,” Liner said. “We took it right in. We got the big turnover. We scored again. That was nice.”
The rout was on. Laurens scored two more touchdowns in both the second and third quarters. Liner emptied his bench. The game was delayed for some time due to a Mann player’s apparently serious injury, and the second half seemed like a phase of the moon, not a football game.
Staples filled the air with passes, especially after trailing by four touchdowns at half, and wound up with 229 yards in the air, though he threw a second interception, to the Raiders’ Isaac Craig, in the fourth quarter.
Laurens needed little besides its line and the stable of backs – Dendy, Martin, quarterback Ryan Campbell and Jordan Woodruff all rushed for more than 50 yards – to run behind it.
Campbell experienced pain in his throwing shoulder near the end of the first half but returned in the second half. He only tried six passes and completed two. One was a 23-yard scoring toss to Zachariah Miller.
The Raiders outrushed the Patriots, 364 yards to 49, ran 23 more plays, and led by more than two to one in time of possession.
“When we do those things, we’re pretty good,” Liner said. “We’re not great by any means. We’ve got a chance to be. It’s still not too late. We’ve got some weapons left to fire.”
And some fire to be returned. A visit to unbeaten T.L. Hanna is next.
Laurens 14 14 14 0 – 42
Mann 0 0 14 0 – 14
L – Shamare Dendy 18 run (Devon Hubner kick) 9:32 1st
L – Duane Martin 2 run (Hubner kick) 7:00 1st
L – Martin 33 run (Hubner kick) 10:09 2nd
L – Zachariah Miller 23 pass from Ryan Campbell (Hubner kick) 2:46 2nd
M – Deonte Sloan 31 pass from Noah Staples (Jake Coker kick) 11:33 3rda
L – Dendy 22 run (Hubner kick) 10:02 3rd
L – Martin 4 run (Hubner kick) 9:34 3rd
M – Will Curtis 10 pass from Staples (Coker kick) 6:27 3rd
RUSHING: Laurens, Dendy 12-133, Martin 14-91, Jordan Woodruff 11-87, Campbell 11-56; Mann, Jashaun Anderson 9-23, Sloan 1-16, Se’Maj Johnson 1-9, Staples 8-1.
PASSING: Laurens, Campbell 2-6-0 25; Mann, Staples 13-28-2 229; Rico Mattison 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING: Laurens, Miller 1-23, Deonja Brown 1-2; Mann, Sloan 5-80, Mattison 3-28, Thomas Hodges 2-94, Curtis 2-19.