After 51 years, Paine notched its first football victory.
The team’s 24-7 win Sunday at Gray Military Academy won’t count in the record books. But after dropping their first club football game earlier in the month, the Lions were able to pick up a momentum-booster.
“This was a chance for the kids to redeem themselves,” Paine coach Greg Ruffin said. “We felt like we should have come out of that first one with a ‘W’.
“Going down there and beating them 24-7 kind of validates what our thoughts were as we came out of the first one. We knew we kind of let that one slip away.”
It’s been a wild month for the Lions, who opened with a home game and then had their second game canceled. Last week, Ruffin arranged a contest at Gray Military Academy, where playing conditions were less than ideal. Ruffin said the field was comprised of hay and sand.
“You couldn’t even see the lines on the field,” he said. “With that being said, the kids just played football. I told them (Gray Military) has to play on the same field we do so we weren’t going to complain about it. We just rolled up our sleeves and worked.”
While he praised the play of his defense, Ruffin credited the installation of a new flex formation for kick-starting the offense. With three backs in the backfield, Paine performed a hodgepodge of jet sweeps, misdirection and play-action plays, with quarterback Loranzo Hammonds finding more success with the new playbook.
“We wanted to put in some things we thought No. 8 could do,” Ruffin said.
In the victory, defense set the tone early. Defensive end Birdell Hodge came off the end and forced a fumble and scooped it up for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Paine, which plays host to Orangeburg Prep at 2 p.m. Saturday at Laney Memorial Stadium, proved throughout its defeat of Gray Military it was better than it played in Week 1.
“We had first-game mistakes. So I’m glad we got that out of the way and didn’t have any carryover,” Ruffin said.