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COLUMBIA -- Laurence Manning Academy suffered its first loss of the season on Friday, falling to SCISA power Hammond 49-7 at Edens Stadium.
The Swampcats fell to 7-1 on the season and 6-1 in SCISA 3A play. The Skyhawks, the 2-time defending state champions, improved to 7-2 overall and 6-0 in 3A play.
For a brief time it appeared the Swampcats might stick with top-ranked Hammond, a team that's now outscored its SCISA 3A opponents 354-34.
LMA junior defensive back Gabe Harris intercepted a pass from Hammond starting quarterback Jackson Muschamp just 51 seconds into the game, setting the Swampcats up at the Hammond 15-yard line.
Senior running back Wyatt Rowland punched the ball in for a 2-yard rushing touchdown to put LMA ahead 7-0 with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter. Rowland finished with 14 carries for 86 yards.
Hammond, however, scored the next 49 points.
"The game started really good," said Laurence Manning Academy head coach Austin Floyd. "We got a turnover, got it down there, and were able to go up early, and that was the last time we had a whole lot positive happen offensively."
The Skyhawks scored 21 points in the first quarter, and then added 14 points in the second quarter to effectively put the game out of reach by a score of 35-7 at halftime.
Muschamp threw three touchdown passes in the first half and added a fourth in the second half. The Skyhawks also scored on a pivotal interception returned for a touchdown that stretched the lead to 21-7 late in the first quarter.
"We made a couple of mistakes, and against a team of that caliber you can't make mistakes offensively," said Floyd. "We had a couple of penalties where we had a little bit of a momentum going and that kind of put us in a bind."
It became an especially physical game with both teams drawing penalties for late hits or unnecessary roughness. There were many more instances of unnecessary roughness or late hits that weren't called, however, including an egregious missed call when Hammond star defensive tackle Jordan Burch slammed an LMA player to the ground well after the whistle.
Things got progressively out of hand after that play.
"Our guys were frustrated," said Floyd. "We're frustrated because we want to compete, and we weren't and that aggression comes out in different ways. Good football teams have an edge to them. We've just have to control what we can control, which is our attitude and effort."
LMA can take solace knowing it was just a regular-season game, and that it may still get another shot at he Skyhawks in the playoffs, but Floyd knows there's plenty of work to do until that point.
"Hammond is a great football team with good coaching and really good players," said Floyd. "I just told our guys we can't sit on tonight, we can't get sour, and we just have to find a way to get ourselves better. We want to compete with everyone in this league, and right now we didn't and that's frustrating. I'm not going to make excuses. They out-coached us and they out-played us tonight. We'll get better next week and find a way to improve and try to make this game more competitive if we have another opportunity to play them."
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