EASLEY – There is an old Johnny Cash song about an auto worker who slowly builds a Cadillac on the sly over decades. Supposedly, when he was through, the title weighed 50 pounds.
Down at the courthouse, they didn’t laugh. To type it up took the whole staff.
That was the scoring summary in Laurens’ 63-29 victory over Easley Friday night. Senior quarterback Ryan Campbell passed for two touchdowns and ran for two. Zy Todd rushed for three, not to mention a season-high 201 yards. Two players added from the junior varsity, Cayson Elledge and Gemire Darden, scored touchdowns. Altogether, six Raiders scored.
Laurens (8-1, 7-1 Region 1-5A) led, 35-7, midway through the second quarter. With its defense limiting Easley (3-7, 2-5) to an average of 1.6 yards for each of its rushing attempts, the Green Wave took to the air, but most of its 374 passing yards occurred from hopelessly behind. Forty-three passes – Kasten Harvey threw 36 of them – combined with 20 incompletions to stop the clock like it was in a traffic jam.
That the game lasted just shy of forever left the Raiders with little choice but to beat the Green Wave’s brains out.
Laurens had already locked up the region and will open the playoffs next Friday at home against Blythewood (5-5).
Easley was already locked out of the playoffs. If not for scoring plays of 61, 60, 34 and 26 yards, the stroll would have seemed leisurely. Easley put up touchdowns from distances of 49 and 26 yards itself. A lot of sprinting took place.
“What I told our guys all week was that we’ve got a team that has gotten better as the year’s gone on,” Laurens head coach Chris Liner said, “and we’re certainly better now than we’ve been in a while.
“But, for us to compete with the elite teams (in the playoffs), this team has to get still better and close that gap. That’s what tonight for me was about. We had one more regular-season game to improve on who we are. We’re not that far from the elite teams. They don’t realize how close we are, but we really are.”
Easley certainly got that message. Campbell rushed for one touchdown when the game was less than two minutes old, a second with 3:39 still left in the period, and Elledge, who would have played on Thursday had the junior varsity game not been rained out, made his first varsity appearance a memorable one by hauling in Campbell’s 60-yard pass 28 seconds later after Harvey threw three quick incompletions and Easley punted.
Both teams scored in every quarter. Laurens scored three touchdowns in the first and two in each of the next three. Easley scored a touchdown apiece in all four. The Raiders yielded no turnovers, but Duane Martin and Garrett Addy both came up with interceptions from among the 43 passes hurled from three Easley catapults.
“We had to get better this week, and I think we did,” Liner said. “If I’d had my wishes, I guess last week (a 33-23 title-clinching win over T.L. Hanna) would have been the final game of the regular season, but this may work to our benefit.”
Laurens 21 14 14 14 – 63
Easley 7 6 8 8 – 29
L – Ryan Campbell 13 run (Jesus Esparza kick) 10:05 1st
L – Campbell 2 run (Esparza kick) 3:39 1st
L – Cayson Elledge 60 pass from Campbell (Esparza kick) 3:01 1st
E – Dylan Lyda 2 run (Nick Mantekas kick) 0:12 1st
L – Zy Todd 11 run (Esparza kick) 10:25 2nd
L – Quin Patterson 26 pass from Campbell (Esparza kick) 6:38 2nd
E – Tim Sutton 26 pass from Kasten Harvey (kick blocked) 2:08 2nd
E – Hooper Thomas 49 pass from Harvey (Carter Brumfield pass from Harvey) 10:36 3rd
L – Todd 34 run (kick failed) 8:54 3rd
L – Duane Martin 2 run (Jayden McGowan run) 3:33 3rd
L – Todd 61 run (Esparza kick) 11:50 4th
L – Gemire Darden 5 run (Esparza kick) 6:55 4th
E – Lyda 1 run (Chris Edge pass from A.J. Brown) 3:04 4th
RUSHING: Laurens, Todd 18-201, Jordan Woodruff 6-67, Campbell 8-64, Jeremiah Easter 1-11, Gemire Darden 3-11, Jeremia Fuller 4-10, Totals 48-379; Easley, Lyda 13-41, Totals 22-35.
PASSING: Laurens, Campbell 5-8-0 127; Easley, Harvey 19-36-1 292, Brown 4-5-0 82, Phillips Duke 0-2-1 0.
RECEIVING: Laurens, Dee Foster 3-41, Elledge 1-60, Patterson 1-26; Easley, Thomas 8-164, Tim Sutton 5-68, Lyda 4-44, Carter Brumfield 2-31, Chris Edge 2-31, Shakeez Abney 1-22, Calhoun 1-14.