The Hamburg Lions dominated the field on Friday night when they hosted the Strong Bulldogs, shutting them out 42-0 during the first half of the game.
Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said that he told his team told them not to take Strong’s 2A status for granted.
“We pushed the players hard in practice this week to focus on doing our best, regardless of who is in front of us, because the real opponent is always the man in the mirror,” Cossey said.
The Lions did not let up and Cossey said they played at high levels for the entire game regardless of the score.
“Our offense looked much improved and made some outstanding, big plays,” Cossey said.
Hamburg kicked off to Strong, but after four attempts to move the ball, Hamburg took over midfield on downs.
DJ Johnson was stopped twice before he carried the ball 44 yards into the end zone for the first Lion touchdown.
Jesus Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions were up 7-0 with only a few minutes gone from the clock.
They kicked back off to strong, but stops by Gavin Harrod, Bruin Barnes, Connor Jones and Kason Watson forced the Bulldogs to punt on fourth and five from midfield.
Strong punted the ball 25 yards to the Lion 26 and Nic Bridges returned 74 yards to the endzone for another Lion touchdown.
Cossey said that though the Lions weren’t able to block any punts he was proud of the pressure his team put on the Bulldogs.
“Their blockers were so focused on not letting us block a punt that we were able to set Nick Bridges up for his big return,” Cossey said.
Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions were up 14-0 with more than six minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs started their next drive on their 20 yard line, but didn’t make it past the 35 yard line before they were forced to punt it right back to the Lions.
Armad Taylor rushed the ball 13 yards from the Lion 37, but a holding penalty moved the Lions back to their own 32. Taylor rushed again for another 18 yards, getting the first down and moving the Lions into Bulldog territory. Johnson got another first down moving the ball to the Bulldog 33 yard line, but two false start penalties pushed them right back.
The Lions were third and 13 and quarterback Brett Rice held onto the ball to rush for five yards to take the Lions to the Bulldog 31.
On fourth and eight Rice handed the ball to Jamal Brewer, who ran the ball 31 yards into the end zone for the third touchdown of the night.
Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions were 21-0 with first quarter seconds still on the clock.
Hamburg forced the Bulldogs to punt again and started another drive about two minutes into the second quarter.
Dalton Gill rushed from about the Bulldog 41 to the 28 for a Lion first down, but on the next play Rice was sacked for a loss of about six yards.
The Lions were second and long on the Bulldog 34 yard line, and Nick McNeil ran it all the way in for six more Hamburg points. Aguilar kicked again and the Lions were 28-0 with about nine minutes to go until the half.
The Lions didn’t allow the Bulldogs to move the ball and forced a punt.
Hamburg started a drive deep in Bulldog territory and it only took them one pass to get the ball back in the end zone.
Johnson caught a 20-yard pass from Rice for to make the score 34-0, and Aguilar kicked in another extra point to make it 35.
On the next Bulldog drive, Harrod forced a fumble and Maddox Lackey recovered it on the Bulldog eight yard line. On the next play, Jones ran it in the endzone and Aguilar kicked in the extra point. The Lions were up 42-0 with time still on the clock before the break.
The Lions didn’t score again, but the Bulldogs managed to get one in the end zone during the fourth quarter, making the final score 42-6.
Cossey said he put several of his younger players in during the second half of play and how they worked the field made an impression.
“They really impressed me with how well they communicated and how hard they played,” Cossey said. “It was fun to watch those guys get a chance to what they could do in front of a crowd.”
Now the Lions will spend the week preparing for their first road game of the season in Camden.
Cossey said Camden is a very good football team and they are extremely physical and athletic.
“They were beating 6A El Dorado for most of the game Friday night before letting it slip away 16-13,” Cossey said.
He plans to have the team really focus on stopping Camden’s running back, who according to Cossey, “can break away and score on any play.”
“I know our boys will work extremely hard this week and we are excited about the challenge,” Cossey said.
The Lions will travel to Camden on Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
“The challenge this week, and moving forward, will be to focus on being our best every play no matter who is in front of us; we must continue to improve the man in the mirror.” Cossey said.
They will play again at home on Sept. 27 for their homecoming game.