Green Wave Washes Out the Tigers in Round Two
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The Gordo Green Wave hosted the Lauderdale County Tigers in the second round of the 2022 3A AHSAA State Playoffs. Gus Smith's Green Wave won 44-14.
Gordo won the toss and opted to receive the opening kickoff to get a chance to put points on the board first. The Green Wave offense pushed forward on the arm of quarterback Brax Garrison down to the Lauderdale County 38-yard line before penalties sent them back to its own 43.
Garrison shrugged off the third-and-23 attempt and launched a ball deep down the field to a wide open Ethan Wilder, who caught the ball, and cruised to the end-zone for a 53-yard score to open the game.
Lauderdale County got the ball back and looked to respond to the early score. The Tigers fed running back Payton Richardson, who broke off runs of 25, 54 and 13-yards, to set his team up at the Green Wave one-yard line. Tigers quarterback Jaxson Lovelace punched the ball into the end-zone and handed off the ball to Richardson for the two-point conversion to put them up by one.
Gordo received the ball back and decided to feed its own running back. CJ Lark opened the drive with an eight-yard run and followed up the gain with scorching 70-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to put the Green Wave up once again but failed to convert the following two-point conversion.
The Lauderdale County returner muffed the following kickoff and the Green Wave jumped at the chance to extend its lead. On the first play following the turnover, Garrison found Jace Hathcock in the flat to his right and Hathcock followed his blockers on his way to the house to put Gordo up 20-8 late in the first quarter.
Lauderdale looked to retaliate after the big mistake and drove down the field to the Gordo 40-yard line, but an incomplete pass on third down forced the Tigers to punt it back to the Green Wave.
Lark looked to continue the trend from his previous carry and on second down from the Gordo 17-yard line, he broke loose again on an 83-yard house call around the left end to extend his team's lead to 19.
Lauderdale failed to convert a first down on the following drive and gave Gordo the ball back. The Green Wave fell on its muffed punt to keep possession. Garrison started from his own 32-yard line and converted the first third down attempt of the drive with an 18-yard scramble down to midfield.
The following play he connected with wide receiver Jamari Wilson to set up the Green Wave at the Tiger 27-yard line. However, a string of incomplete passes and a penalty set Gordo up with a decision to go for it on fourth-and-eight from the Lauderdale County 25-yard line.
Garrison dropped back and snapped a pass over to Hathcock near the sideline for a 20-yard gain and a first down. Garrision dropped back once again on the following play and attempted to throw a fade route to Wilson, but Tiger cornerback Tucker Green was able to jump in front of it and secure a much needed turnover for his team.
The Tigers could not make the most of the play and turned the ball over on down after and incompletion to set the Green Wave up again at the Tiger 26-yard line. Garrison delivered a pass to Wilson down to the seven-yard line, but two negative plays and an incompletion forced the Green Wave to opt for a field goal attempt from Tamos Spain that went through the uprights and gave Gordo a 30-7 lead.
The Tigers looked to run hurry up with less than a minute remaining in the first half and on second down Lovelace found his man down the field for a 36-yard completion to set the Tigers up at the Gordo six-yard line with a chance to narrow the lead before the half. The team could not get any more points on the board prior to halftime.
Lauderdale County opened up the second half with the ball and were forced into a punting situation on its first set of downs. However, on the following return, Wilder fumbled the ball and gave the Tigers a chance to extend its drive near midfield. Lauderdale County had a negative yards play on first down and a false start which set the Tigers back again and they opted to punt the ball after a forced incompletion.
Gordo received the ball back, but was unable to move the chains on a third down pass from Garrison to Wilson. Smith opted to go for it on fourth down and Garrison was stopped dead in his tracks to give Lauderdale County the ball back.
The Tigers were unable to take advantage of the field position and gave the ball back after a fourth down incompletion. Garrison took the reigns again and delivered a pass to Wilson just past midfield and after a string of penalties, set the Green Wave up at the Lauderdale County 28-yard line, Garrison found Lark on a 28-yard pitch and catch touchdown pass.
Lark finished the night with 161 yards on the ground and two touchdowns along with the reception.
Smith was not afraid to praise his young back and said, "he reminds me of TJ Yeldon a lot the way he runs....he's just so smooth and sees the holes and has been really good for us."
The Tigers were unable to move the ball on the following drive and their failed four-down attempt set up the Green Wave for another score. Garrison wasted no time and on first down, a touch pass jet sweep to Willie Fonville was all the team needed to get back into the end zone.
Garrison finished the contest with 215 yards through the air and four touchdowns with the lone interception in the first half.
Lauderdale looked to make one final push before the end of the game and did so with Braxton Rose, who carried the Tigers down the field. After a 15-yard run set his team up inside the Gordo five-yard line, Rose was able to punch in the touchdown and bring the score to 44-14 in favor of the Green Wave.
"For the things they had to battle this year...our guys played hard," said Lauderdale County head coach Jeff Mason.
Gordo will travel next week to face off against Piedmont in a highly anticipated quarterfinals matchup.