By Jimmy Espy, General Manager
It was a game that should have went in the win column. Instead the Murray County Indians on Friday suffered a bitter 13-7 loss to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in overtime.
Murray County led 7-0 with less than four minutes to play. What’s more, the Indians’ defense was throttling the home team Warriors and appeared to be solidly in control of the game.
Then things went haywire for Murray County.
The Warriors drove 61 yards on five plays, with Jevonnie Womble scoring from 10-yards out. The PAT tied the game at 7.
LFO had a chance to win at the end of regulation time but the Murray defense, as it had done for most of the night, came through with a big play. Gage Stanley, accompanied by several teammates, crashed through and blocked the field goal attempt.
The team celebrated on the sideline but that play turned out to be the Indians last hurrah.
Starting at the LFO 15 in overtime, the MC offense unraveled. A four-yard loss on first down and a holding penalty backed the team up 15 yards. Two incompletions followed, setting up what would have been a 45-yard field goal attempt before another penalty tacked on an additional five yards. Elber Romero’s kick was straight but fell far short.
LFO wasted no time in cashing in. Fullback James Beddington, a 230-pounder who had been quiet most of the game, found the end zone from 15 yards out to win it.
Murray takes the lead
Murray’s opening possession portended a big offensive night. On the team’s first possession and its first play from scrimmage, quarterback Kaleb Jones rolled left and hit Davis Redwine with a 50-yard completion to the LFO 19. A five-yard delay of game penalty, one of three such calls on the night, backed Murray up, but Jon Dooley picked up the first down with a 15-yard run.
Murray scored two plays later on an eight-yard run by Redwine.
Romero notched the PAT.
After that initial drive not a lot went right on the attacking side of the ball.
Statistics show some of the problems:
* Less than 100 yards rushing.
* Only one penetration past the 50 yard-line after the initial scoring drive.
* Nine plays for negative yardage.
* At least four fumbles, though none lost.
* Too many penalties.
But the stats don’t tell the full story.
The team struggled to get plays in efficiently, leading to three delay of game penalties and to wasted timeouts.
The offensive line had its worst night of the season. LFO’s front got stronger as the game went on, choking off the rushing lanes and pressuring quarterback Jones almost every time he touched the ball.
The Indians managed only six first downs — none on their last five possessions.
Defense was stout
The late game failure will be a painful memory, but for 3 1/2 quarters the Indian defense stood tall.
Cade Petty (nine tackles), Carson Voiles (13 tackles), Tyler Hayes (nine tackles) and Gauge Stanley made a lot of plays.
Defensive tackles Seth Gallman and Gonzalo Mena teamed to stop LFO on an early fourth and two play.
Lincoln Puryear’s pass rush forced an intentional grounding call.
Jason Rice had a fumble recovery.
Petty beat two blockers and made strong tackle to blow up a first-half LFO drive.
LFO finished with 202 yards rushing but it took them 52 carries to get there.
Malachi Powell led the home team with 83 yards.
The Indians will host region opponent Coahulla Creek on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Colts have a win over Southeast Whitfield and losses to Northwest Whitfield and Adairsville.