LMS leads in suspended game

Friday, September 5, 2014
Wesley Walker (9) turns up field on his way to the end zone for a 78-yard touchdown run in the first half. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The only thing that has slowed down the LMS Tigers so far this season has been Mother Nature, who reared her ugly head in Tullahoma Tuesday night when the contest was suspended due to severe weather just before halftime.

LMS was well on their way to their fourth consecutive win to start the season, leading 28-6 with 1:16 remaining in the first half when lightning emerged from the black clouds overhead of Wildcat Stadium in Tullahoma.

"Technically we are not declared the winner and the game is officially ruled a suspended game, to be picked up at a later date," said LMS head coach Eliot Cook. "Since the game is non-conference, I'm betting we never make it up. Tullahoma already has to make up another conference rain out game. So I'm counting it as a win."

After an initial 30-minute delay, the officiating crew, in consultation with school officials from LMS and Tullahoma, decided to suspend the game for the safety of the players.

"TSSAA rules say that if lightning is in the area play must be suspended for 30 minutes," said Cook. "Every time it strikes the clock starts back at 30 minutes. We waited 30 or 40 minutes and the clock was still at 30 since lightning was striking about every 90 seconds."

No make-up date has been scheduled as of press time.

Mitchell Ford (21) hauls in a 5-yard TD strike from KJ Johnson to open the scoring.

LMS received the opening kickoff, starting at their own 30-yard line where quarterback KJ Johnson went to work, completing three passes on the drive, including a 3-yard touchdown strike to Mitchell Ford to open the scoring.

Wesley Walker banged into the Tullahoma end zone for the two-point conversion, making it 8-0 Tigers with 4:58 remaining in the first quarter.

The Wildcats struck back quickly as they sent their big bulldozer Braisen Corn loose, first for a 10-yard gain before he busted a 40-yard touchdown on the next play.

The extra point pass by Payton Howard was intercepted in the end zone by Lewisburg's Antonio Warren to make it an 8-6 contest at the 4:17 mark of the first quarter.

Walker, who has been a force all season for LMS returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown, but the PAT try was no good, giving the Tigers a 14-6 lead.

"Wesley is the leader of the team for sure," said Cook. "He rarely comes off the field. He plays running back, middle linebacker, and is on every special team. That is really tough to do."

Tullahoma started at the LMS 48-yard line after a nice kickoff return and drove the ball all the way to Tigers' 17-yard line where the defense stopped the Wildcats on four straight plays to take over the football.

LMS took the 14-6 lead in to the second quarter and Walker struck again, this time on a 78-yard touchdown jaunt.

Johnson found Ford with a two-point conversion pass, putting the LMS up 22-6 with 6:37 remaining in the first half.

Chandler Gillespie drilled Corn on a first-down run, firing up the LMS defense, which stoned the Wildcats on the next two plays to force a punt with 5:38 remaining in the first half.

"We haven't played a zone read team like them yet so Corn got to us early," said Cook. "It was also really hard to show them a good look in practice because of his size. We don't have any backs that big, but we adjusted well. This is the most coachable group of kids I've had in my coaching career."

LMS' Devontavious Wilson (11) returns a punt 77 yards to set up the Tigers' final touchdown of the game.

Devontavious Wilson made the Wildcats pay, returning the punt 77 yards to the Tullahoma 10-yard line, and three plays later, Walker took a reverse handoff before tossing an option pass to Dakota Childress in the end zone for a touchdown.

Tullahoma stuck with the bruising Corn, who tried to lead the Wildcats back, but it was not to be as the Tigers' defense held again, taking over on downs with 1:16 to play in the first half.

Austin Wood (54) tackles Tullahoma's Dylan Knight (44) in the backfield.

"Our defense has really stepped it up this year, they are really playing together as a team and holding each other accountable," said Cook. "They have pride in everything they do so far. Being a defensive minded coach, I love seeing that."

There would be no more football for the evening as the electric storm pushed in, suspending the contest.

Walker rushed for 173 yards on just seven touches in the contest.

Johnson had a perfect night behind center, completing all five passes he attempted for 56 yards and a touchdown.

"KJ has really stepped up to be a leader as well," said Cook. "He also started every game as a seventh grader at quarterback. Experience has been a good teacher for him and it's rare to have a two-year starter at quarterback in middle school."

Childress had three catches for 56 yards and a score, while Ford had two catches for a touchdown and a two-point conversion, and Walker had one catch for 9 yards.

LMS will be back in action on Thursday when they travel to Dickson with game time slated for 6:30 p.m.