LMS Tigers withstand challenge from Harris
Having blown out their first two opponents this season, the Lewisburg Middle Tigers (3-0) passed their first tough test of the 2014 campaign when they defeated the Harris Eagles 20-6 at home on Tuesday night.
Harris (0-1) battled LMS to a 6-6 tie late in the second quarter before the Tigers scored a touchdown and tacked on a two-point conversion in the closing minutes of the stanza to take a 14-6 advantage into the break.
Lewisburg then reached the end zone again on their opening drive of the second half to stretch their lead to 20-6 early in the fourth quarter before holding the Eagles scoreless on their final two possessions of the contest to claim the 12-point victory.
Except for a 67-yard touchdown run by Ronnie Thomison, the Tiger defense kept Harris's offense under wraps and limited the Eagles to just 164 yards from scrimmage overall, including a mere 40 yards in the second half.
Wesley Walker recorded 10 tackles to lead Lewisburg's defensive effort, while Hunter Lancaster registered eight tackles and a sack. Kyrese Harris notched seven tackles as well and Dagon Stacey tallied six tackles, a sack, and a blocked punt. Chandler Gillespie and Devontavious Wilson also chipped in five tackles apiece for the Tigers.
"I'm super proud of the defense because they kept us in the game early. They made some big stops and took their will away," said LMS coach Elliot Cook.
Harris did most of their damage on the ground and rushed for 121 yards on 27 carries. Thomison paced the Eagles' running game by rushing for 94 yards and a TD on six carries, while Alantae Harris toted the ball seven times for 28 yards.
Harris quarterback Lucas Ragsdale, meanwhile, completed 5-of-11 passes for 43 yards. Alantae Harris was the Eagles leading receiving and hauled in two passes for 25 yards, while Trice Arias and Mason Warner each had one catch for 11 and nine yards respectively.
After averaging 44 points per game in their first two contests, LMS had a much tougher time moving the ball against Harris and finished with a season low 156 yards of total offense, which included 89 yards rushing on 30 carries, while committing three turnovers.
Walker led Lewisburg's ground attack by toting the pigskin 17 times for 70 yards and two TDs. Wilson also added 21 yards rushing on two carries.
Hindered by three dropped passes, Tiger quarterback K.J. Johnson completed only 3-of-8 throws for 38 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception. Walker attempted two passes as well, completing one for 29 yards.
Mitchell Ford snared three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown to pace LMS' receiving corps, while Wilson had one catch for 29 yards.
The Tigers had trouble hanging on to the ball early and committed turnovers on each of their first three possessions, but the Eagles were unable to capitalize and failed to pick up a first down on their opening three drives.
Stacey then set up Lewisburg with excellent field position midway through the second quarter when he blocked a punt by Ragsdale to give the Tigers the ball at the Harris 11. LMS punched the ball into the end zone two plays later when Walker scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge to make it 6-0, before the Tigers failed on the two-point conversion attempt.
Lewisburg's lead would prove to be short lived, as Thomison raced 67 yards for a TD on the Eagles' ensuing drive to knot the game at 6-6. On the two-point conversion attempt, Kyrese Harris and Lancaster tackled Ragsdale in the backfield to maintain the tie.
Following an unsuccessful onside kick attempt by Harris, the Tigers mounted a quick response and found pay dirt in just two plays. After Wilson caught a 29-yard pass from Walker to start the drive, Johnson hit Ford for a 20-yard touchdown strike a few moments later. Johnson then found Cameron Burrow in the end zone on the two-point conversion attempt to give Lewisburg a 14-6 lead.
The Eagles put together another promising drive on their final offensive series of the half and advanced to their own 48 with the help of an eight-yard catch by Alantae Harris and a C.J. Blindt nine-yard run. Ragsdale then hit Alantae Harris for a 17-yard gain to convert a 3rd and 10 situation, but Harris had the ball jarred loose at the end of the play and Wilson scooped up the fumble to snuff out the Eagle threat.
In the second half, Harris received the opening kickoff and drove from their own 43 to the LMS 28 in five plays. The Tiger defense, however, stood tall once again, as the Eagles lost 10 yards on their next three plays before Ragsdale tossed an incompletion on fourth down.
Lewisburg then opened up some breathing room by engineering a 12-play, 62-yard drive that was capped by a Walker 21-yard touchdown jaunt to forge a 20-6 advantage.
"We fixed a couple of things at halftime and came out running downhill in the second half. Not every play is going to be a touchdown. Sometimes you just have to grind it out," said Cook.
That proved to be all the points the Tigers would need, as they stopped Harris on downs on their final two possessions to wrap up their third victory of the year.