All star as Lions roll Tide from playoffs

All star as Lions roll Tide from playoffs

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:00 pm

By MIKE HUTCHENS
Press Sports
The headliners (Raymer and Swafford) were familiar.
A deeper read and just as important to the story, however, revealed names like Turnbow, Kemp, Thomas, Jolley, Ellison and Hampton.
“We hit ’em in the mouth early and that started with our people up front,” confirmed Dresden head coach Keith Hodge after his fifth-ranked Lions posted a convincing 34-7 victory over No. 8 Trenton in Friday’s Class 2A state quarterfinal playoff game at Rotary Field.
“That’s how you win big football games, by being physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Our offensive and defensive lines really set the tone in the first couple of drives.”
Devan Raymer continued to amaze with 276 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Colter Swafford rushed for 70 yards and a TD and caught a 72-yard scoring pass from Davis Moran to lead the Lions (11-1) into a semifinal showdown against Adamsville (11-1) this week. The Cardinals blanked Loretto 24-0 in another Round 3 game Friday.
The two teams met last year at the same juncture with Dresden winning 35-19 on the way to the program’s first-ever state championship game.
Adamsville will come into the contest with an 11-game winning streak, its only loss coming in a Week 0 season-opener to Chester County, 21-14.
The winner will advance to the BlueCross Bowl in Cookeville, Dec. 1.
Both Raymer and Swafford repeated early storylines vs. Trenton Friday, regularly running with great success on the left side behind Josh Turnbow, Dylan Kemp and Logan Thomas, who often provided gaping holes on off-tackle and counter plays.
And Dillon Jolley, Ricky Ellison and Bobby Hampton were part of a defensive interior that allowed linebackers and the DHS secondary to make huge hits (Thomas and Joey Caldwell) and come up with two critical redzone interceptions (Raymer and Swafford) while putting the clamps on a Peabody offense that had scored 40 or more points in four straight games and had entered the contest having won seven in a row.
“Offensively, there were some huge holes to run through. We thought we saw some things on film that we could hurt them with and misdirection was, no doubt, one of them. They play so fast and we caught them over-pursuing a few times,” Hodge added.
“And on defense, our front three got some penetration and kept from getting pushed back in our linebackers’ lap and allowed them to run and make plays.”
Particularly impressive was that the Lion defense kept Tavarian Barnett (146 yards on 26 carries) out of the endzone after the Golden Tide flash had scored six TDs in his team’s first two playoff games and entered the contest with more than 1,800 yards rushing.
“We were able to stay lateral and do a good job limiting him,” Hodge said. “They’ve hurt so many teams who just ran upfield against them. Other than one run where he reversed field, we did a very good job on him.”
The Lions scored on their first three possessions, snuffed out a pair of Trenton threats with the aforementioned interceptions and had another key defensive stop when Peabody threatened to open the second half after falling behind 20-0 at the intermission.
Raymer scored on the second play from scrimmage — a six-yard run after he’d ripped off a 41-yarder on the initial snap of the game. Moran then threw to a wide-open Swafford, who sprinted down his team’s sideline the rest of the way to paydirt on the way to a 72-yard scoring play to make it 12-0 barely halfway through the first period.
After the two teams then swapped turnovers, Swafford capped an eight-play, 50-yard touchdown march after Raymer’s interception with a 22-yard endzone jaunt. Raymer tacked on the two-point conversion to give his team a 20-0 lead with three minutes gone in the second quarter.
The lead could’ve been larger at the half, but a potential Dresden scoring drive expired when the first-half clock did after the Lions had reached the Peabody 3-yard line before a holding penalty set them back.
Raymer’s 70-yard TD dash three minutes into the third period after the Lion defense had turned away the visitors on downs at the Dresden 18 made it 27-0 after Ben Kendall’s successful PAT.
Trenton’s lone score came late in the third quarter on a short pass from Braxton Baugus, but Raymer’s 51-yard paydirt gallop with 2:42 to go sealed the deal.
“Again, everything started with and goes back to how we played up front,” Hodge continued. “That allowed us to make big plays.”
“I think, too, we got back in rhythm in practice and had a sense of urgency with how we prepared. Having just one week to prepare for an opponent really makes you concentrate every day rather than when you have longer to get ready for someone like we did TCA last week.”
In looking to the semifinal rematch with Adamsville, the Lion skipper acknowledged his team will have its hands full.
“They’re a big, strong physical football team that’s going to come right at us,” Hodge predicted. “I know they have good tailback (Zak Neary), and I’m sure they believe they are just as good as we are and will come in here ready.
“We better be, too.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Rotary Field. Published in The WCP 11.20.12

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