COLUMBIA - Perhaps Hammond was showing its displeasure for missing out on a trip to the SCISA 3A football state championship game last year after playing in the title game for 10 straight seasons.
Skyhawks head coach Erik Kimrey insists that wasn't the case, but whatever the reason, Laurence Manning Academy was the recipient of a beatdown on Saturday at Benedict College's Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
Hammond scored on six of its seven possessions in the first half and rang up almost 400 yards of total offense on the way to a 42-0 halftime lead and a running-clock second half in a 49-7 victory.
"No, not going last year wasn't motivation for us this year," said Kimrey, whose team finished with a 12-0 record. "It's a new group of guys each year, and that's what makes high school football so much fun."
It was the Skyhawks' ninth state title in the past 12 years. LMA was playing in its second title game in four years, losing to Hammond 17-0 in 2014.
"For whatever reason, we didn't have a lot of energy tonight," said Swampcats head coach Robbie Briggs, whose team finished with a 10-3 record. "We just couldn't get anything going on either side. We just ran into a buzz saw."
Hammond quarterback Corbett Glick threw incompletions on the first two offensive plays of the game, and it looked like he'd thrown another when Laurence Manning was flagged for pass interference to give the Skyhawks a first down. Two plays later, he threw a pass to wide receiver Cleo Canty in the flat. Canty slipped a tackle and darted down the sideline for a 55-yard scoring pass.
Lake Barrett's extra point made it 7-0 with 10:51 still left in the first quarter.
"We had them stopped and that penalty kept the drive alive," Briggs said. "That hurt us."
LMA was three downs and out on its first possession and Hammond took over at its 17-yard line. The Skyhawks needed eight plays to get in the end zone, running back Jordan Burch going in from four yards out for the first of his four TDs to make it 14-0 5:46 left in the first quarter.
The big play of the drive was a 47-yard completion from Glick to wide receiver Lucas Prickett. Glick completed 14 of 21 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Prickett had six catches for 143 yards and two scores.
"We just try and look and see what they give us," Kimrey said of Hammond's offensive approach. "We have a lot of different bullets that we can shoot and see what works."
LMA actually forced Hammond to punt on its third possession but then came up short on a fake punt on fourth down and two, turning the ball over at its 37. Hammond made it 21-0 on a 1-yard run by Burch.
That set off a run of five straight possessions on which Hammond would score, including the first of the second half. The Skyhawks had 373 yards of total offense in the first half, 277 of it through the air.
The Swampcats had just 43 yards of total, including minus 4 yards rushing. Quarterbacks Braydon Osteen and Burgess Jordan were sacked a combined six times in the first half.
"They just dominated us up front," Briggs said. "I don't think our guys were ready for the speed at which they played the game. Our quarterbacks were running for their lives. You have to tip your hat to them."
LMA finished with 174 yards of total offense, 61 of it coming on a touchdown pass from Jordan to wide receiver Taylor Lee in the fourth quarter. Lee finished with six catches for 100 yards.
Despite the blowout loss, Briggs was happy with his team's season.
"I'm so proud of my guys for the way they played this season," Briggs said. "We were a very young team and not a lot of people expected us to be this good."