The Laurence Manning Academy football team continued its hot start to the season by going to Charleston to face First Baptist and coming away with a 39-31 victory in overtime.
The win moved the …
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The win moved the Swampcats to 6-0 on the season and more importantly to 5-0 in SCISA 3A play.
Beating First Baptist was huge for LMA, but head coach Austin Floyd knows there is still a lot of football left to play.
“I don’t think that’ll be the last time we play them,” said Floyd as he implied a likely postseason matchup. “But it was awesome to go down there and get a big win on the road.”
Next up for Laurence Manning is a matchup with Cardinal Newman that has all the ingredients of a trap game. After getting a huge win over First Baptist, it would be easy for the Swampcats to get a little ahead of themselves with a matchup against SCISA 3A behemoth Hammond looming next week.
“The message in our team meeting on Monday was that the best part of being 6-0 is the opportunity to go 7-0,” said Floyd. “I also told them that when we went down to First Baptist, that was kinda one that I think a lot of people in our community marked as a loss and a lot of people coming in figured us to lose. If you look at us and Cardinal Newman on paper and you looked at records, you’d probably say the same things about them.
“At the end of the day, they’re all big games,” continued Floyd. “As a coaching staff, you have to sell it to them that this game does matter. It’s important to us, and we don’t want to look ahead. We’ve gotta try to be 1-0 this week and that’s a difficult thing to do.”
LMA was dominant in the first half against First Baptist, taking a 24-14 lead into halftime. The Hurricanes charged back in the second half to tie the game, but Laurence Manning nearly won the game in regulation. They charged down the field and lined up for the game-winning field goal, but a bad snap ended those hopes of finishing the game in regulation.
The missed opportunity didn’t dissuade the Swampcats, as they came back and scored to open the overtime period. The LMA defense then made a stop to come away with the 39-31 win. Floyd was proud of the way his team responded in the overtime period, despite letting the lead slip away.
“I think our kids kind of understood there at the end of the game that we had made mistakes to put us in that position, but we were still capable of playing well enough to win the game,” said Floyd. “More than half of the battle is mental and believing that you can make the play.
“Our verse of the week last week was Jesus talking about having the faith of a mustard seed and how that little bit of faith can make a lot of things happen,” continued the LMA head coach. “It’s like that in football; a little bit of faith can go a long way. Things went wrong on Friday night and we had a lot of adversity, but the kids just kept playing.”
The Swampcats were led by another excellent game from Wyatt Rowland. The senior running back rushed 13 times for 131 yards and two scores, while also returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
Rowland wasn’t the only standout though. Nolan Osteen ran for 107 yards, while Burgess Jordan completed six of 11 passes for 101 yards and tossed a touchdown to Gabe Harris. Defensively, Bennett Stephens had 15 tackles and forced a fumble. The LMA defense also picked off a pair of passes in the win.
Cardinal Newman comes into the game with a 3-3 record overall and a 2-3 record in 3A. The Cardinals are a tough team to game plan for because they love to spread the ball around. Senior quarterback Jacob Cowan has passed for 386 yards and five touchdowns this year, while also rushing for 102 yards. Jalen Crumpton leads the team in rushing with 232 yards and two touchdowns, while Shayne Monsanto has rushed for 151 yards and four scores. Harold Johnson is the team’s leading receiver with 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Payton Cooper has also gone over 100 receiving yards on the season.
“They do a good job of getting different guys the ball, and they get production out of a couple of different guys,” said Floyd. “They want to run that power and counter and we want to do a good job of slowing them down and making them play left-handed and take away what they do well.”
Floyd said the No. 1 way to help the defense by making sure the offense does its job.
“We’ve gotta do a better job than we did last week, because our defense was on the field a lot last week,” said the first-year head coach. “We have to sustain drives offensively to help ourselves out and keep those guys off the field. Those guys that they have that are dangerous offensively. if they’re on the sideline and we have the ball offensively, they can’t do anything.”
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