A storm was headed this way, but somehow Laurens’ 35-10 victory over Wade Hampton Thursday night seemed more like a cool breeze.
The Raiders needed a game like the Region 1-5A opener against the winless Generals to clear their minds and build some confidence.
“We haven’t been in a game like this in a while,” head coach Chris Liner said. “Even the Clinton game (LDHS’s other win, 34-14) wasn’t decided till late. It doesn’t change me much, but it was great for the team.
“I’ve gotten nervous for every game that I’ve ever played since I was five years old, and that’s continued through coaching, and I was nervous tonight, and I think when I quit being nervous, I’ll quit, or retire.”
Laurens (2-2, 1-0 region) led 28-0 at halftime. The Raiders scored on their first four possessions and never punted until late in the second quarter. If Liner could stay nervous through that, he’s got lots of coaching to come.
Since the beginning of the season, the Raiders have operated the offense more and more with quarterback Ryan Campbell under center instead of in a shotgun, “diamond pistol” formation.
The leading rusher (for the season), Duane Martin, is a big fan.
They both scored two touchdowns: Campbell on runs of seven and six yards and Martin on runs of two and five. Campbell rushed 11 times for 96 yards, and Martin had 88 in 14 tries.
“It makes the line get a better push and makes me fire off faster,” he said. “When we go under center, it opens up our running game, like, a lot. It’s hard to explain how much going under center helps. I’m not going to down our shotgun game, but putting Ryan (Campbell) under center has been good for me … a lot.”
The leading rusher for Wade Hampton (0-4, 0-1), quarterback Hagen Hiott, gained 11 yards, which was better than the team, which netted six.
“We’ve done pretty well offensively the last couple weeks,” Liner said. “Last week (in a 42-24 loss to Hillcrest), we ran 70-something plays and they only ran 42. We were able to do some things we wanted to do and this week kind of continued that.
“This week we were able to capitalize on our scoring opportunities. We’re reading the option better each and every week. Ryan gets better at that each and every week. Early on, we were poor in game-management stuff. We’ve corrected the majority of that. This is not an offense where you can get behind the chains. You can’t have first and 15.”
Everyone played. Laurens thoroughly dominated Wade Hampton and gained 369 total yards, 333 on ground, to the Generals’ 104, 98 through the air.
“We had some explosive plays tonight, which we haven’t had. We’ve had to grind and pound, and that’s hard to do, go 80 yards five and six yards at a clip,” Liner said. “You need about four explosive plays a game. We had a couple tonight. The one that was a touchdown was called back. Some longer runs were exciting to see. You want to keep the ball, but when it’s 92 degrees with high humidity, and there’s a hurricane coming, it’s tough to stay out on the field the whole time.”
Liner also thought it was the Raiders’ best defensive game of the year to date.
“We’re excited,” he said. “We’re building and we’re closer.”
Wade Hampton 0 0 3 7 – 10
Laurens 21 7 0 7 – 35
L – Campbell 7 run (Devon Hubner kick) 8:27 1st
L – Campbell 6 run (Hubner kick) 4:58 1st
L – Martin 2 run (Hubner kick) 0:23 1st
L – Cade Thompson 14 run (Hubner kick) 9:52 2nd
WH – Jesse Klein 43 FG 2:34 3rd
L – Martin 5 run (Hubner kick) 11:21 4th
WH – Levi Conway 13 pass from Hiott (Klein kick) 4:14 4th
RUSHING: Wade Hampton, Hiott 6-11, Berry 14-10, Good 2-2, Whitmire 3-(17), Totals 25-6; Laurens, Campbell 11-96, Martin 14-88, Dendy 9-78, Jordan Woodruff 5-57, Thompson 4-21, Team 1-(1), Dra Boyd 3-(6), Totals 47-333.
PASSING: Wade Hampton, Hiott 10-21-0 96, Whitmire 1-3-0 2; Laurens, Campbell 3-6-0 36.