Laney football coach Eric Parker wasn't sure how his young squad would react in front of a noisy, sold-out White Road Stadium crowd against long-time rival Josey.
It turned out that Parker's team was a bit more seasoned than the veteran Eagles, who were a week behind Laney in opening the season.
Josey's rust showed early and proved costly. The Wildcats capitalized on two fumbles by the Eagles in the first quarter en route to a 27-0 victory Friday night.
Laney, which starts only three seniors, has opened the season with two shutouts. The Wildcats blanked Butler 21-0 in a game marred by turnovers last week.
"We played hard, not always smart, but sometimes that's enough," Parker said. "I'm proud of the kids. I think we got stuck in some lulls, but that's some of that youth coming out. Some of those mistakes we're making will hurt us down the line."
The two teams combined for eight turnovers, but Josey, which had five fumbles and lost four, had their mistakes come at the most inopportune times.
Laney (2-0) got off to a quick start with a long drive to open the game. But the talented group showed some inexperience as the drive stalled when Ricardo Safford lost a fumble at Josey's 6.
Junior linebacker J.K. Sabb refused to let the Eagles reap the rewards. On Josey's (0-1) first play from scrimmage, Sabb bolted through the line to sack quarterback Kennie Eberhart, causing the senior to fumble.
Sophomore defensive lineman Debarius Moss recovered the ball for Laney on the 1-yard line and Sabb, who started the game at quarterback in place of injured Latavis Walker, scored on a sneak with 7:57 left in the first.
The Eagles' season-opening jitters showed again on their next possession as they again lost the ball on a fumble, this time on a botched handoff at their own 21.
It took just two plays for Laney to cash in, going up 12-0 with 7:40 left in the first quarter when sophomore running back William Scott fought his way up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown.
"I was surprised, I felt like we would come out and play hard, give 'em a fight," Josey coach Tommy Macon said. "I didn't expect us to make the mistakes we made. We played a lot of guys both ways, but so did they. We just didn't handle it well. It's back to the drawing board."
After Josey turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, Scott set up the Wildcats third first quarter score when he broke the corner for a 55-yard run to Josey's 9. Sabb scored one play later on an option keeper and Laney held a 20-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Sabb rushed for 50 yards, threw for 46 and posted two sacks in the victory.
The 20-0 score carried into halftime as the Eagles tightened up in the second quarter, not allowing the young Wildcats to reach the end zone.
Josey remained strong, keeping Laney in check through most of the second half, until disaster struck again. The Eagles fumbled a punt return at their own 30 midway through the fourth. Safford, who fumbled earlier for Laney, made up for it with a 3-yard touchdown run with 8:47 left to put the game out of reach.
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