From the beginning, the Lovett Lions demonstrated an aggressive attitude that would ultimately prevail. For the first time in more than 40 years, the Lions can call themselves state champions, defeating the Lamar County Trojans 14-7 in the Class AA title game on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
Senior running back Grant Haley’s 41-yard touchdown run with 8:09 remaining in the third quarter was the game’s final score and gave the Lions a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Haley was aided by a defense that contained the speed of the Trojans’ dangerous trio of seniors Lance and Lawrence Austin and Quay Searcy, who were held in check the entire game.
“This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life” said Haley, a Vanderbilt commit who has been the leader of the Lions all season. He finished the game with 134 yards on 22 carries. “It was definitely a great win for the seniors. I’m really shocked we’re here right now.”
The Lions (14-1) opened the game with an onside kick and on the same drive, went for it on fourth down and converted. Though they ultimately punted on that opening drive, they sent a message that this wouldn’t be just another game.
“Lamar County’s got an awful lot of speed and they’ve got such great athletes who are so well-coached,” Lions coach Mike Muschamp said. “The only way I know to attack that is to go right at them, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Junior quarterback Willie Candler’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jack McGranahan opened the game’s scoring three minutes into the second quarter.
The game was mostly a defensive battle, and the Lions held twins Lance and Lawrence Austin to less than 100 yards each and kept them out of the end zone.
Lamar County(14-1) kept the game tight, responding to Lovett’s first score on their next possession with an impressive nine-play, 65-yard drive capped by Quentin Frazier’s 11-yard run to tie the game at 7 with 5:21 left in the first half.
But that would turn out to be Trojans’ only score of the game.
“It was a great season,” said Trojans coach Franklin Stephens, who was gunning for his third state championship as a head coach after leading Tucker to its first two state titles in ’08 and ’11.
“We had a chance for greatness. However, I feel like I just didn’t do a good enough job of getting our kids ready for a game of this magnitude.”
Lamar County 0 7 0 0 – 7
Lovett 0 7 7 0 – 14
Lovett – Jack McGranahan 8 pass from Willie Candler (Cole McGowan kick)
Lamar County – Quentin Frazier 11 run (Tyler Scandrett kick)
Lovett – Grant Haley 41 run (McGowan kick)
Send Adam Krohn an email at AdamKrohnAJC@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter.