Lovett completes dream season with AA title

Terance Johnson

Lovett won its first state title since 1970 with a 14-7 over previously-unbeaten Lamar County. The teams entered the half tied 7-7, but a Grant Haley 41-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Lions a 14-7 lead. That was all the Lions’ defense needed to close the game.

Team speed was in Lamar County’s favor and the Trojans did all they could to try and get their backs running lanes outside. However, Lovett’s Charlie Ingram, Jack Gearon and Bear Jameson held the edge and funneled the explosive Lawrence Austin and Qua Searcy back inside.

“Our guys came up with a great plan to try to contain their (Lamar County’s) speed and it is an awfully hard thing to do,” said Lovett head coach Mike Muschamp. “They broke a couple on us, but for the most part, we contained them really well.”

Jameson and Gearon each posted two tackles for loss, including Jameson’s sack on the final play of the game on a would-be Hail Mary heave.

Lamar County’s lone score came on an 11-yard run by senior Quentin Frazer in the second quarter. The Trojans’ touchdown answered an eight-yard touchdown pass from Lovett quarterback Willie Candler to Jack McGranahan earlier in the quarter that was set up by Lovett’s persistent run game. The Lions (14-1) drove down the field with six consecutive running plays before Candler found McGranahan on the play-action pass.

Candler, a junior, finished 8 of 9 passing for 77 yards and a touchdown. Haley’s eventual game-winning touchdown was part of another heroic performance from the Vanderbilt-commit, and the senior carried the ball 22 times for 134 yards (6.0 yards per carry). His running mate, Murphy Lee, came up big down the stretch by rushing for 48 hard-earned yards in the final quarter to add to his 98 total yards. The Lovett offense accumulated 276 rushing yards and outgained the Trojans 353-182 in total yardage.

“I am so proud of the effort that our kids played with,” said Muschamp. “That [our effort] was the biggest thing for us. They’ve done it all year and tonight they really had to do it and they showed up … . We are never going to be as big or fast and strong as the teams we play against, and our kids know that and they embrace that as a challenge. We’ve got to be smarter and execute a lot of different things, and that’s exactly what we did tonight.”

Muschamp added a state title to his 14-year head coaching career that began at Savannah Country Day. The Rome native arrived at Lovett in 2005 and has won 91 games in his nine seasons.


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