Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local Sports

September 14, 2013

Late-game mistakes costly to Cougars in loss to Valdosta

Valdosta — Just when it looked like Crisp County would be able to at least give heavily-favored Valdosta High a rare close game, it developed a severe case of “turnover-itis” that turned the contest into a rout.

Down by only eight points (14-6) at halftime and still trailing by just 15 points (21-6) entering the final quarter, Crisp came unglued and surrendered three late touchdowns while absorbing an ultimate 40-6 loss.

“We had three things back-to-back that snowballed on us there at the end,” Cougars’ head coach Lee Campbell said afterwards. “The first was a bad punt snap; the second was a mishandled kickoff, and the third was a fumble at our 10-yard line. Being the great team it is, Valdosta capitalized on all three of our mistakes as the game got out of hand.

“We sort of gave this one away. I don’t know if we’d have actually wound up beating  them had we not had all those bad things happen but the final score definitely wouldn’t have been as bad as it was.”

Now 3-0 on the season as they continued to add to their recognition as the winningest prep football team in the nation, the Wildcats got their first score of the evening on a short quarterback keeper by Mac Loudermilk. Prior to that, they had missed a chip-shot field goal attempt.

Forcing Crisp to punt after its initial score, Valdosta doubled its lead to 14-0 on a drive capped by a short TD run by Malcolm Joseph who during the course of the scrap rushed for 85 yards.

Not long after that, Cougar Montre’ Hartage picked off a Wildcats pass that he returned deep into Valdosta territory to set the stage for quarterback Witt Campbell’s 5-yard TD keeper that made it 14-6 at the break.

Capitalizing on Crisp’s aforementioned miscues, the Wildcats won the second half 26-0 and went on to pad their total yardage to 380 compared to Crisp’s 142.  

“We came out flat offensively and let them push us around those last two quarters,” Campbell said in his post-game recollections. “We didn’t seem to have the fire we did the in the first two periods when which we didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

Malcolm and Loudermilk each wound up scoring twice for the winners who were 7 of 12 through the air. Nelson Herring registered six gains of 10 or more yards while finishing with a team-high 146 yards on the ground.

“Our kids fought hard and for that reason I hate the score got out of hand like it did,” said Campbell. “Field position had a lot to do with that being the case as Valdosta’s kicking game was tremendous and their defense was just so fast and dominating.

“Still, it was good to see us hang with them for pretty much three quarters. Last year (in Crisp’s 45-0 loss), the clock ran non-stop a good bit due to the mercy rule, but that wasn’t the case in this one as we really got after them knowing that you have to play hard on every snap or get embarrassed.

“What we’re going to do is use this game and the wins we got in our first two starts as preparation for our region (1-AAAA) play that starts Friday night when we go to Cairo.”

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