One of LaFollette’s maxims may be to play for 32 minutes, but they only needed eight last Thursday night.
Five first quarter fumbles led to five Owl scores in the first round of the middle school playoffs at LaFollette Middle School. By the end of the first quarter, the Owls led 38-0, before defeating the Bulldogs of Soldier’s Memorial 38-16.
“We did pretty good,” head coach Chris Honeycutt said. “We were physical up front with that first group, and it showed…we were able to capitalize on those mistakes. I’m happy with that first quarter.”
The first half wasn’t too shabby either.
For the second week in a row, the Owls have held their competitors to negative yardage in the first half. Last week against Cumberland Gap, the Panthers managed only negative 7 yards. For the Bulldogs, it was negative 35.
“We’re just playing really good defense right now,” defensive coordinator Jake Snider said. “Guys are lining up where they are supposed to, and we’re not running plays like we used to. They’re just being responsible and playing sound defense. That’s what’s been successful for us.”
On the night, Big Mike Rhoades finished with three forced fumbles, six tackles for negative 12 yards, and one quarterback pressure.
Christian Carroll added another forced fumble, while Frankie Gagaris recovered two. Alex Audit and Austin Stone each added a recovery.
“We did a great job of taking advantage when they put the ball on the ground,” Snider said. “I think we got just about everyone of them that they put on the ground, which means that we were attacking and in the right position.”
With the win against the Bulldogs, the Owls move to a rematch of the 2012 Egg Bowl. As Jacksboro had a buy in the first round, LaFollette will travel down the road for the playoff elimination game on Thursday night.
The game is slated to begin a 7 p.m.
“We felt like that is where we were headed,” Honeycutt said. “We’re back. It’s going to be hard to beat a team twice. I think we’ll be ready.”
With two big wins in the past two weeks, LaFollette will look to carry that momentum into next week’s match with the Eagles.
After starting the season 0-3, the Owls have stormed back to a 5-4 record heading into the second round.
“Momentum is always good,” Honeycutt said. “They see themselves getting better, but as a coach, I don’t want them to be content. Our competition is going to be a little better. It’s going to be another four quarter game.”
As for the defense, they’ve already made the adjustments necessary for Jacksboro.
“We’ve put in a few different things and some adjustments,” Snider said. “We’re looking forward to limiting their big plays. Last time we played, it was a couple big plays that got us.”
A fumble forced by Big Mike was recovered and returned to the Bulldog 12-yard line by Audit. Three plays later, Cody Lawson went the 12 yards needed for the score. His two-point run was good, leaving the score 8-0 with 6:46 left in the first.
A fumbled snap by Elijah Beason was recovered by Gagaris. Three plays later, Clayton Jarrett connected with Bailey Lawson from 11 yards out. Gagaris made the two-points, going behind Big Mike for a 16-0 lead with 4:42 left in the first.
Beason's pass was picked off by Justin Nelson on the Soldier’s Memorial 7-yard line. Nelson took it the distance for the pick six. Cody Lawson’s two-point try failed as LaFollette led 22-0 with 2:29 left in the first.
Big Mike forced yet another fumble on the Bulldog 21-yard line. Coty Boshears took it behind Peyton Web and Bailey Lawson for the score, before Cody Lawson converted the two points. With 1:40 left in the first, the Owls led 30-0.
Another fumble was recovered by LaFollette on the Bulldog 26-yard line to go up 38-0 with 7:50 left in the second quarter. Cody Lawson went 21 yards while breaking three tackles for the score. His two-point conversion was the last score by the Owls.
As LaFollette sent in the reserves in the second half, the Bulldogs got on the board. The eight-play, 70-yard drive was capped as Beason rushed 2 yards for the score. His pass connected with Hunter Rosenbalm for a 38-8 deficit.
A LaFollette fumble led to Soldier Memorial’s last score. Isaiah Cloud went the 1 yard for the score, as Beason converted the two-point try for the final margin, 38-16.