Laney players, sporting huge smiles, greeted family and friends from across the fence, knowing they gave their stadium something it had never seen before.
Playing a state playoff game at home for the first time since 2005 and the first in Lucy C. Laney Memorial Stadium’s short history, the Wildcats walked off the field Friday night as victors by beating Morgan County, 41-13, in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
It’s the program’s first playoff win since 2006 as the stadium, which opened that same year, saw a Laney victory for the fourth time this season.
“We showed what we can do,” senior lineman Fred Nelson said. “We wanted to accomplish something we hadn’t done in a long time.”
Laney (8-3) scored on four of five possessions at one stretch and had its stingy defense contain the Bulldogs’ Wing-T offense to advance to the second round.
Both Leo Myers and George Myers rushed for more than 100 yards in the win, as the duo combined for 220 yards and four rushing scores.
After a three-and-out its first drive, Laney was nearly unstoppable as long as it didn’t turn the ball over.
The Wildcats compiled nearly 350 yards against a Morgan County defense that was giving up only 9.5 points per game.
Even when the offense did give it to Morgan County (8-3),the Wildcats’ defense was often there to force a turnover or a punt.
The Bulldogs lost three fumbles and tossed an interception as Laney took advantage of great field position following the turnovers.
Though Marquis Benton led the Bulldogs with 88 yards on 19 carries – he rushed the ball seven times on the visitors’ first scoring drive – Laney answered both Morgan County scores with its own touchdowns.
The first spanned 74 yards, finishing with a George Myers 2-yard run with less than 23 seconds to play in the first half to make it 22-7.
Then, after the Bulldogs capitalized on a Leo Myers lost fumble with a short score, the Wildcats converted a fourth-down attempt on their way to a 71-yard touchdown drive.
Leo Myers capped off the possession with a 7-yard run to make it 34-13.
When Demarcus Nunnally scored with 2:01 to play, the Wildcats went ahead by four scores as they finished off their first-round win.
“All that matters is win and move on,” Laney coach Lemuel Lackey said.