Lions overcome mistakes in division opener

By Melissa Meador

Monroe Journal

HAMILTON – Hamilton overcame a pair of third-quarter turnovers and a slew of penalties for its 1-0 start in Division 1-1A play, beating Vardaman 31-7 in the division opener.

“We had too many penalties and came out flat in the second half, and that’s a good football team that’s used to winning,” Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. “We definitely have some work to do.”

Pallas Fair’s interception of Vardaman QB Brandon Walker on the first drive of the game gave the Lions (3-1, 1-0 Division 1-1A) the ball at the Rams’ 41, and Keshon Heard scored on a 17-yard run four plays later.

A short kick on Hamilton’s next possession put them at the Vardaman 19, and Heard found the end zone on a 2-yard run.

A long punt from Tanner Dement pinned the Rams inside the 5-yard line on their fourth drive, and a host of Lions took down Walker for a team safety and a 15-0 lead at the start of the second. Fair’s 9-yard run with 7:24 until halftime put Hamilton up 22-0.

A big 40-yard run from Quon Cummings to open Vardaman’s first possession of the second half gave the Rams momentum, and after a pair of costly penalties for Hamilton, Tavis Townsend punched it in from 3 yards out to cut the lead to 22-7.

A fumble gave the Rams the ball back two plays later on the Lions’ 19, but Hamilton came up with a stop in the red zone.

Vardaman (0-4, 0-1 Division 1-1A) came up with another turnover, this one a pick of Hamilton QB Byron Butler returned to the 2-yard line, but Heard came up with an interception of his own in the end zone.

Hamilton took control in the with a safety from Sequintis Coleman and Davis Hankins, and Fair scoring with a 37-yard TD run after the free kick. Fair rushed for 149 yards.

“We played better on defense in the second half, but we didn’t take advantage on offense,” Vardaman coach Larry Gann said. “I’m proud of our effort in the second half.”

melissa.meador@journalinc.com