Washington County, ranked No. 3 in Class AAA, scored touchdowns on seven of its first eight possessions, only failing to score with 16 seconds left in the first half when quarterback William Walker fumbled inside the Laney 10.
The Golden Hawks piled up 389 rushing yards against a Laney defense that was missing two starters for disciplinary reasons and had allowed only 5.0 points per game before Friday night.
“Going into the bye week we’re exactly where we needed to be,” Washington County coach Joel Ingram said of his 5-0 team.
Walker passed for 98 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 67 more for Washington County. Melvin Hill rushed for 88 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown, as the Golden Hawks blew the game open with 28 points in the third quarter.
“Against a quality team you can’t dig that type of hole for yourself, especially on the road,” said Laney coach Lemuel Lackey, whose Wildcats scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Washington County reserves after falling behind 48-7. “We’ve got to learn how to go in an environment like this and play. I thought my young players got shell-shocked in the environment.”
The shock started quickly with Washington County jumping all over Laney’s defense, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions with drives of 80, 38 and 74 yards.
The first took only three plays, triggered by Walker hitting D.J. Sanders for 35 yards and capped by a 29-yard strike to Deonte Latimer in the end zone.
“I think it helped loosen them up because even though we do spread stuff everybody knows we’re run first,” said Ingram. “We’ve had to learn through the years to take what they give us, and we’ve finally got a skill set to take advantage of those things.”
The second took four rushing plays, with Johnson sprinting wide right to the corner pylon from 14 yards.
Johnson scored again from 16 yards on the third possession, ending an eight-play march kept alive by a fourth-down conversion.
Laney finally answered with a 74-yard drive of its own, with quarterback Andre James beating the Golden Hawks to the right corner on a 12-yard run to make it 20-7 with 4:11 left in the half.
Washington County was on the move again on its fourth possession, driving to the Laney 5 as the first-half clock wound down. But Walker fumbled the ball dropping back to pass on third down, and the Wildcats recovered at the 10.
“We left a few points on the field at the end of the first half,” Ingram said. “I was just a little aggravated, but that was just a great play by Laney.”
The game busted wide open in the third quarter when Johnson went 52 yards for a touchdown on Washington County’s first play from scrimmage and Hill went 73 on the second.
Two interceptions thrown by Quinton Hall set up two Washington County touchdowns in the third quarter to make it 48-7 and establish a running clock for the fourth quarter.
“We never got a handle on trying to stop their plays,” Lackey said. “We should have played better. We had some discipline issues we had to deal with this week, and that’s just part of the game. That’s what you get when you don’t show up with all your weapons.”
J.W. May added a 43-yard field goal for the Golden Hawks in the fourth quarter.
Laney got three big plays in the final 11 minutes to make the final score seem more respectable. DeMarcus Nunnally broke up the right sideline for a 73-yard touchdown run, Andre James connected with Jeremy Smith for a 64-yard passing touchdown, and Keenan Washington rumbled 77 yards on a fumble return in the closing seconds.
“My competitive nature, my young guys went in there and kind of laid an egg and let them score a couple touchdowns late,” Ingram said. “I was real proud of my older guys. They took care of business.”