LMS Tigers rout Whitthorne
Lewisburg Middle School football coach Jeff Morton's first victory over Whitthorne Middle School came in spectacular fashion, as his Tiger squad hammered WMS 70-20 in their season opener on Thursday night in Columbia.
Armed with a bevy of fleet skill position players, Lewisburg continuously burned Whitthorne with big plays and built a commanding 50-12 lead at halftime before outscoring WMS 20-8 over the final two quarters to coast to the 50-point victory.
"It feels great to finally break through against them. We've come close to beating them several times, but always came up a little short," said Morton, who enters his 12th year as the head coach of the Tigers. "After beating Lipscomb last year and Whitthorne this year, it helps your program. This is the team we prepare for all summer."
Despite running only 18 plays, Lewisburg amassed 373 yards of total offense, which included a 308 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Quarterback Jay Howard hurt Whitthorne with his arm and his legs, as he completed 2-of-3 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 69 yards and a score on four carries, and returned a kickoff 84 yards for a TD.
Camron Hightower-Liggett rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on three carries as well, and Benielle Hill ran for 94 yards and a score on two attempts to go along with a 40-yard interception return for a TD. D'Andre Brown also toted the ball three times for 38 yards and a touchdown, caught one pass for 37 yards, and returned a Whitthorne fumble 65 yards for a score, while Caleb Fields hauled in a 28-yard TD catch.
"I knew this team was explosive, but you can't anticipate scoring 70 points against Columbia. We executed well and our athletes were running wild once they got in the open field," said Morton. "I think it will be tough for teams to match our speed this season. We have a lot of weapons so I don't know who you try to stop."
Lewisburg's defense, meanwhile, limited Whitthorne to 199 yards of total offense and forced three WMS turnovers.
Aided by a handful of long runs from Marques Locke and Zion Johnson, Whitthorne finished with 169 yards rushing on 18 carries. Locke toted the ball 10 times for 116 yards and a TD, while Johnson rushed for a 62 yard touchdown on his lone carry.
Dartavious Lyttle recorded four tackles and half a sack to lead the Tigers' defensive effort, while Ben Taylor notched three tackles. Tre Fields also recovered a fumble for Lewisburg, and Blair Conger had two tackles and half a sack.
Although Howard had an 80-yard touchdown return called back on the opening kickoff due to a sideline interference penalty, the Tigers still found the end zone on their first offensive series by marching 71 yards to pay dirt in five plays to grab a 6-0 lead. After Hightower-Liggett scampered for 7 yards on a 3rd and 2, Hill broke loose for a 26-yard run, before Brown scored on a 30-yard touchdown jaunt on the next play.
Lewisburg opened up a 14-0 lead a few moments later when Hill picked off a pass by Whitthorne quarterback Cameron Harvey in the middle of the field and weaved his way for a 40-yard touchdown return, while Brown ran in the two-point conversion.
WMS narrowed the gap to 14-6 late in the first quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run by Locke, but the Tigers quickly answered and stretched their lead to 22-6 with :36 left in the opening period thanks to a 68-yard touchdown scamper by Hill and a Brown two-point conversion run.
Following a three and out by Whitthorne, Howard raced 52 yards for a touchdown before running in the two-point conversion to make it 30-6 with 5:13 left in the second quarter.
After the Tigers forced another WMS punt, Hightower-Liggett scored on a 56-yard touchdown jaunt three plays later while Trent Richardson ran in the two-point conversion to give Lewisburg a 38-6 advantage.
Tre Fields then set up the Tiger offense with excellent field position when he pounced on a Whitthorne fumble at the WMS 12, before Howard scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge two plays later to stretch Lewisburg's lead to 44-6.
Whitthorne backup quarterback Drew Williamson hit Harvey for a 26-yard touchdown pass to trim the deficit to 44-12 with :26 left in the second quarter, but the Tigers put together a three-play, 65-yard TD drive in the waning moments of the half to take a 50-12 advantage into the locker room. Brown hauled in a 37-yard catch on the left sideline to start the drive before Howard found Caleb Fields in the left corner of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the half.
Things continued to go badly for Whitthorne at the start of the third quarter, as Brown scooped up a Locke fumble and sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown to push Lewisburg's lead to 56-12.
Following a WMS punt, Hightower-Liggett bolted 35 yards for a touchdown to stake the Tigers to a 62-12 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Whitthorne closed the gap to 62-20 on a 62-yard touchdown scamper by Johnson and a Nazzara Fitzpatrick two-point conversion run, but Howard returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a score before Caleb Fields ran in the two-point conversion to cap Lewisburg's 70-20 triumph.