The Hamburg Lions have now won three consecutive conference games after beating the Central Cougars in Hamburg Friday night.
The Lions have worked to put distance between the Friday when they lost their first conference game to DeWitt three weeks ago. The only conference loss the Lions have is against DeWitt.
“Not only did we lose a game we thought we could have and should have won, but we also lost several starters to serious injury, including our unquestioned leader, DJ Johnson,” Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said.
After the DeWitt game, the team remained positive and Cossey said they kept going back to the film to look at how hard they played that night even when the game was going against them.
“The heart and effort was outstanding until the final zeroes hit the scoreboard,” he said. “So, even though our execution was not very good on defense that night, we knew our team was mentally tough and would never quit.
“Knowing that, we knew that our best football was and still is in front of us. And, with a never quit attitude like these boys have, anything is possible.”
Hamburg carried that never quit attitude on the field with them on Friday night, and even with several starters still out nursing injuries, they finished on top.
Hamburg scored first late in the first quarter as Dalton Harrod forced a fumble and Gavin Harrod returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Jesus Aguilar kicked in the extra point and the Lions led 7-0 with a little more than a minute to play in the first quarter.
The Lions kicked off to the Cougars, who fought their way into Lion territory but weren’t able to score. Howard sacked for a loss on fourth and 8 to giving the Lions the ball on their own 26 yard line.
The Lions were forced to punt and the Cougar offense started a drive on their own 28. A Lion penalty moved the Cougars 18 yards to midfield, but the Lion defense held them off. They forced the Cougars to punt on fourth and 7 and Harrod blocked the punt.
The Lions started a drive on the Cougar 27 yard line. Three plays later, Aguilar kicked a field goal from the 40 to give the Lions 10 to the Cougars’ 0.
The teams battled back and forth until the half time buzzer and hit the locker room with the Lions in the lead.
After the break the Lions kicked off to the Cougars, who fumbled on the return.
The Lion offense came out and took over on the Cougar 24 yard line.
On second and 20, Brett Rice completed a 20-yard pass to Maddox Lackey for a first down and an offside penalty by the Cougars moved the Lions up five more yards.
The Lions were on the Cougar three yard line, but were forced to turn the ball over after a fourth down attempt.
The Lion defense held the Cougars to a punt and started another drive midfield.
The third quarter remained scoreless as the two teams battled back and fourth. The Lions had the ball and were third and 13 midfield as the clock rolled into the fourth quarter. After a failed pass attempt, Aguilar came out to punt and the Lion defense took the field.
The Cougars were moving the ball a little at a time and made it to their own 44 yard line. On the next play, Nic Bridges intercepted a pass on the Lion 24 yard line bringing the Lion offense back out on the field.
After two failed rush attempts and a Lion holding penalty moving the Lions all the way back to their own 13 yard line, Rice completed an 87 yard pass to Bridges for a Lion touchdown.
Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions led 17-0 with a little more than eight minutes to play in the game.
The Lions kicked off to the Cougars ,who finally fought their way into the end zone for a touchdown, making the score 17-6. The Cougars went for a two-point conversion, but the Lion defense stopped them before they could score.
The Lions were forced to punt on their next drive, but an interception by Derrick Franklin brought the Lion offense back to the field. The Lions took over on the Cougar 10-yard line.
Harrod rushed for eight yards to the Cougar two yard line, and on the next play ran it the remaining two yards into the end zone for the Lion touchdown.
Aguilar’s kick was good and the score was 24-6, which would be the final for the night. Bridges intercepted another pass on the Cougar’s next drive and the Lion offense took the field until the clock ran out.
The Lions are now second in the conference with a 3-1 conference record, second to the Crossett Eagles, who have a 4-0 conference record.
Cossey said that the injury situation is still pretty rough. Starters Dylan Morgan and Reid Erwin are scheduled for season ending surgeries this week. Jamal Brewer missed another week due to a high ankle sprain. Nick McNeil also tweaked his ankle during the week. Armodd Taylor has only been cleared for non-contact drills.
“We were fortunate enough to get Maddax Lackey and Drake Rice back last week though, and they were big helps providing depth on offense and defense,” Cossey said. “Maddax made some huge plays down the stretch at running back to help our offense finally get back on track in the second half versus West Helena,” Cossey said.
The Lions hope to get Jamal and Armodd back this week, but Cossey said both will most likely be game time decisions.
As far as preparing for the big Ashley Bowl, Cossey said the Lions are being forced to limit how much contact they have at practice due to injuries.
“But, we are spending extra time in the film room and extra time in non-contact drills preparing for an extremely talented and unbelievably fast Crossett team.,” Cossey said.
Defensively, he said the staff is happy with the recent progress and play and looks to build upon that success as they face the most explosive offense they’ve e seen in quite some time- the Crossett Eagles.
“Offensively, we will be preparing a variety of approaches. With our limited depth at running back, we have to be creative,” Cossey said.
“We will most likely carry three different game plans into the game Friday night: our traditional spread attack, the Wing T we ran a little against West Helena, and a new flexbone option-oriented offense that should help our undersized offensive linemen.”
The Lions and the Eagles will face off in Crossett on Friday night for the annual Ashley Bowl at Yarborough Field. Kick off will be at 7 p.m.