HAYNEVILLE - More than 100 fewer points were scored but the game was just as tough. Macon East (AISA AAA) defeated Lowndes Academy (AISA AA) Friday night 18-13 in a solid defensive effort for both squads – something far different than the 70-69 shootout Macon East had with Edgewood the week before. “I thought it was a good football game and both sides had a well prepared defense. Yeah, you could say it was different than last week,” Macon East coach Glynn Lott said. “This week our offense did not play well. It was definitely different.”
Lowndes could not take advantage of the first big opportunity of the game. Daniel Janes recovered a fumble when the Knights mishandled a punt late in the first quarter. After a scoreless first quarter the Knights got on the board first with a TD pass from Kirkland Pugh to Clay Slagle.
The Rebels came right back with a 74 yard aerial score from Colby Briggs to Trevor Haney to tie things up at 7-7. “We did not come out with intensity. We came out flat. It certainly didn’t look like we wanted to avenge the loss to Edgewood,” Lott said. “That has got to change.”
The Rebels touchdown pass provided the majority of the Rebels offense. Briggs was 3 of 7 passing for 97 yards while Lowndes was restricted to 32 rushing yards by the Macon East defense.
Macon East showed some spark at the beginning of the second half. Cephus Cleveland ran the ball six times and complete a pair of passes in an impressive drive to start the third quarter. Cleveland lunged in for the score from a yard out to put the Knights up 14-7. Cleveland, who split his duties between quarterback and tailback, carried 29 times for 142 yards and was 6 of 8 passing for 59 yards.
The Lowndes offense responded with its one true drive of the game. Haney reached the end zone from the two yard line before the end of the third quarter. But Lowndes did not level the score as the extra point was missed after being partially blocked, the major turning point in the game. Macon East held a slim 14-13 advantage moving into the final quarter. “That blocked extra point started things going in the wrong direction. You could see it happening, and then the safeties. I think that’s the story,” Lowndes coach Shane Moye said afterwards.
Macon East recorded not one, but two safeties in the fourth quarter as the Lowndes offense sputtered. It began when Briggs was injured and left the game. John Morgan took over as signal caller and was soon called for intentional grounding while in the end zone, which elevated the Knights lead to 16-13. On the next Rebels possession Morgan was sacked by Stone Yarnell for a second safety that completed the scoring at 18-13. “We made a few defensive adjustments at the half that helped. They lost their quarterback after the blocked extra point, and that hurt their chances,” Lott said.
“It was a hard fought football game and I thought we prepared well. Macon East played us tough. They are a fine team. We have South Choctaw coming in for homecoming and our quarterback will be out for a couple of weeks,” Moye remarked. “We got to go back to the drawing board.”
Coleby Jordan was a workhorse for the Knights with 15 carries for 76 yards on offense. He also had 5 tackles and 2 sacks on defense. Slagle had 3 catches for 38 yards and 8 tackles on defense. Yarnell made 3 catches for 28 yards and recorded 5 tackles on defense. Garrett Harden and Javen Augustus had 7 tackles each.
In addition to Janes, Peyton Parker and Landon Hooper recovered fumbles for the Rebels. Austin Meads intercepted a Knights pass.
Macon East, now 4-1, will host Monroe Academy on Thursday night in their biggest region game of the year. “Tonight may have been a tough game but it wasn’t all that physical. We should have handled them much better than we did,” Jordan said. “We need to keep the momentum going. With Monroe we need to keep pounding away and not let up. We really have to play well for four quarters.”
Lott said the physical part with Monroe is critical. “We must control the line of scrimmage. That’s the most important thing for us,” the Knights coach said. “We have been manhandled by them the last couple of years and we need to stay with them up front. That’s what it will take. That and a high level of intensity.”