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Warriors win Homecoming

MERRY HILL – Usually the homecoming dance is held in the gym.

Friday night at Merry Hill at Lawrence Academy, they held it on the field.

Twice.

First, the Warriors danced their way to their second win in a row, a 62-20 rout of Cresset Christian Academy of Durham, then the players and some of the homecoming crowd danced on the field.

After being on the receiving end of more than a few blowouts this season, the Warriors revved up the fans to hurricane force in taking the 42-point win.

&uot;Feels a lot better to be on the top end of one,&uot; said a jubilant coach Mike Dail on the field as he watched several of his coaches get doused with water from the Gatorade bucket. &uot;We’ve worked hard and it’s starting to pay off for us.&uot;

Lawrence got on the Eagles early.

On their first possession they started at the 34-yardline and five plays later, quarterback Blake Hill hit Nick Morris in the endzone for the first score of the game.  A quick two-point conversion and the Warriors had lit the numbers on the scoreboard, 8-0, before most of the homecoming court had unwrapped their corsages.

But the Eagles came right back to knot the score at 8-8, as senior back Francis Estepan galloped 26 yards into the end zone on Cresset’s first offensive drive. 

It would be late in the first quarter before the Warriors would get on the board again: With just over a minute and a half to go, Daniel Ross on a counter play went untouched into the endzone for Lawrence’s second touchdown, and a Hill keeper for the extra point doubled the score in the Warriors’ favor, 16-8.

Cressett answered right back: Joe Waggoner to Dhugie Adams on an 18-yard pass play, but the run failed and it was 16-14 Lawrence.

Two minutes later, Chad Oliver got his first touchdown of the night to push Lawrence’s lead to 22-14, then on their next drive, Hill connected for his second touchdown pass of the night: a 36-yarder to Keith Thompson and Lawrence had doubled up the Eagles again: 28-14.

Cresset never crossed midfield again for the rest of the half. Spencer Walston, Oliver, and Jeff Davis converged at the quarterback on swarming tackle-for-a-losses of five yards on three successive plays, and after only a 22-yard punt, it was Hill with the hat-trick in touchdown passes, his third of the night, this time to Shane Leggett, who barreled his way into the end zone from 35 yards out and a 20-point Lawrence lead at halftime, 34-14.

Lawrence opened the second half still pouring it on: going 66 yards in five plays finished off with a 17-yard Keith Thompson touchdown and a 42-14 lead.  The Warriors next tried a short kick, but Cresset was caught off-guard and Shane Stevens simply fell on it on the 44 yard line, then number-44 went 44 yards and pushed it out to a 48-14 lead.

Cresset would get one final touchdown, as Estepan collected his second touchdown on the night and finished with 167 yards rushing in a losing effort.  But Lawrence also had a couple of more scores for the 62-20 final.

Stevens finished as Lawrence’s leading rusher on the night with a pair of scores and 72 yards rushing.  Hill finished with 103 yards passing and three touchdowns.  The Warriors won for the second straight time and raised their record to 2-5.

&uot;We’ve been working on the run a lot,&uot; said Dail. &uot;We feel like we’re improving, and we’re going to be OK in time.  I was glad to see the seniors have a good last homecoming.   But we’ve got to stay after it, with St. David’s coming in here next week and closing the season with Hobgood and Northeast.&uot;

Dail may have avoided the Gatorade shower, but wasn’t shy about showering praise on his team.  &uot;We understand where we are,&uot; he beamed, &uot;but we’ll take this one tonight, and we’re mighty glad to get one.&uot;