The Hamburg Lion football team started the season with a 10-point win over the Ashdown Panthers.
The Lions hosted the Panthers at Campbell Field Friday for the Lions’ first home game of the year.
“Our effort and attitude was off the charts,” Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said. “We had several opportunities to fold and we just kept getting stronger together.”
The first quarter ended with no score, but by halftime the Lions were up 13-7 over the Panthers.
The Panthers started the game with ball, but the Lions held them. The Lions started their first drive on their own 24 yard line. The Lions fought their way to the Panther 28, where quarterback Brett Rice rushed the ball into the end zone. The play was called back for holding, which moved the Lions all back to the Panther 40. Fourth and long forced the Lions to a punt and the Panthers started their second drive. The Lions not only held the Panthers to four and out, they iced the cake by blocking the punt. It was recovered by Hamburg’s Jamal Brewer, giving the Lions excellent field position on the Panther 20 yard line with a minute and a half left to play in the first quarter.
As the clock rolled into the second quarter, the Lions were first and goal. After two short passes and an 11-yard run by DJ Johnson, the Lions were in the end zone and the first six points lit up the scoreboard. The two-point conversion attempt was no good and Jesse Aguilar kicked the ball 59 yards to the Panther one yard line. The Panthers made it three yards with the ball before Gavin Harrod not only forced and recovered a fumble, but ran it seven yards into the end zone for another Lion touchdown.
Aguilar’s extra point kick was good and the Lions were up 13-0 with 11:13 to play until the half.
The Panthers went four and out and punted from their 23 yard line.
Nic Bridges returned the 37 yard punt back to the Panther 37, but on the drive Rice threw an interception to give the Panthers back the ball.
On the second play of the drive, a Panther broke away for a 22-yard run before he was Armad Taylor and Dalton Gill stopped him in Lion territory.
A 12-yard pass moved the ball to the 39 yard line, and on the next play the Panthers ran the ball into the end zone. Their extra point kick was good and the scoreboard read 13-7 with six minutes left in the half.
On the next drive, the Lions went four and out and Aguilar punted 42 yards to start the Lions out on the Panther 42.
Bruin Barnes stopped the first rush attempt, but not before the Panthers had moved 15 yards into Lion territory. Chris Lloyd and Taylor stopped the next play for a loss of two yards, but a Lion penalty moved the Panthers to the Lion 35.
The Lions held the Panthers and after two incomplete passes and a stop by Taylor, Ashdown turned the ball over on downs. The Lions took over on their own 27 yard line, but a fumble by Rice gave the Panthers the ball right back.
Harrod and Johnson stopped the first three plays and Gill sacked for a loss on the fourth down.
The Lions took over on their own 23 yard line with a little over a minute left in the half.
The Lions couldn’t move the ball and gave it right back to the Panthers with only three seconds on the clock. Lion Kason Watson sacked the quarter back for a 14 -yard loss and the teams hit the locker room for the break.
After the half, the Lions didn’t score on their first drive and punted after four plays. The Panthers took over mid field, but the Lions forced them to punt. Bridges returned the ball 42 yards and the Lions started on the Panther 15.
Johnson rushed the ball three times, moving it to the Panther three yard line, and Rice completed a pass to Conner Jones for the touchdown.
Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions were up 20-7 with 7:26 to play in the third.
Ashdown started a drive, but couldn’t move the ball, punting it back to Hamburg. Rice threw three incomplete passes and Aguilar came out to punt it right back to the Panthers.
Ashdown started on their own 35, but penalties moved them back to the 15. An incomplete pass and failed rush attempt had the Panthers at third and long on their own 11 yard line.
They completed a pass that brought them to four and two and then a 72 yard run had them in the end zone.
The extra point kick was good and the score was 20-14 with more than two minutes to go in the third.
As the clock rolled into the last quarter, the Lions were first and goal on the Panther eight yard line. Harrod and Johnson tried to get the ball in the end zone, but on fourth down, Aguilar kicked a field goal, bringing the score to 23-14.
Aguilar kicked off to Ashdown, but the Panthers held them to a punt and the Lions had the ball on their own 14 yard line.
Penalties moved them back to their own seven, and on fourth and 17 Aguilar came out to punt.
A Panther caught the ball around the Lion 40, but fumbled on the return.
Jyron Davis recovered it for the Lions and Hamburg took back over on their own 22 yard line.
A fumble by Taylor gave the ball right to the Panthers and they were first and 10 deep in Lion territory.
The Lions held the Panthers off and on fourth and goal, Harrod and Jones stopped them on the one yard line, giving the ball back to the Hamburg offense.
Cossey said this stop was huge and that Harrod ran 30 yards to assist with the stop.
“A huge play that most in the stands didn’t even notice was when Gavin Harrod raced all the way from middle linebacker to assist on a tackle at the half yard line,” Cossey said. “If he doesn’t show that kind of heart and that kind of effort, Ashdown definitely scores there.”
Rice ran the ball five yards to the Lions’ six yard line, and on the next play Johnson carried it from end zone to end zone for a 94-yard touchdown. Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions were now up 30-14 with less than two minutes on the clock.
Ashdown scored one more time before the final buzzer sounded, making the final score 30-20, and the Lions celebrated their first win of the season.
Cossey said there were so many great moments it was hard to single any specific one out.
“I will remember several big plays on special teams which is where we really dominated,” he said.
Cossey said he felt the game was a great start to their “prove them wrong” season.
“The players and coaches, if I’m being honest, are really attacking this season with a chip on our shoulder, and ‘prove them wrong’ is more than words,” he said.
“We have a playoffs or bust mentality around our football team right now, and we know we have a lot of work to do to achieve that goal.”
The Lions will host Strong on Friday night and will honor local preachers and ministers before the game.