Even in the rain, fans packed the stands on both sides of Yarborough Stadium for the Ashley Bowl, or Ashley “Mud” Bowl as some fans have called it.
The Hamburg Lions started with a 13-0 lead, but ultimately fell to the Eagles by one point in the Ashley Bowl on Friday night.
Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said the rain definitely impacted the game, but he does not think it changed the outcome.
“The rain impacted both teams equally,” Cossey said. “Hats off to Crossett for playing a great game and really tightening down on defense in the second half.”
Hamburg kicked off to Crossett to start the game and shut the Eagle offense down in the first quarter of play. On Hamburg’s second drive of the game, Brett Rice completed a 21 yard pass to Nick McNeil for a touchdown and Jesus Aguilar kicked in the extra point to make the score 7-0. Hamburg forced Crossett to punt and then went four and out themselves giving the ball right back to the Eagles. Crossett started a drive on their own 17 yard line and on third and three, Nick McNeil intercepted a pass at the Eagle 38-yard line setting the Lions up to score. It took six plays, but Armodd Taylor finally rushed it three yards for a Hamburg touchdown making the score 13-0 with only a minute to go in the first. Aguilar’s kick was no good holding the score.
The Eagles had the ball as the clock rolled into the second quarter and they pushed their way to the Lion 13-yard line. A penalty moved them back to the 23-yard line and on the next play Bruin Barnes intercepted the ball bringing the Hamburg offense back to the field.
The Lions didn’t move the ball and punted back to the Eagles. Crossett started a drive on the Lion 33-yard line. Stops by Dalton Howard and Dalton Gill had the Eagles at third and eight, but they were able to get the first down with a run by Jaylan Lawson to the Lion 16-yard line. Derrick Franklin and Gavin Harrod stopped Lawson on the next two plays, but on the third play, Tyrique Jones was able to run the ball into the end zone for the Eagle score. Chase Rice kicked in their extra point and the score was 13-7 with 4:11 to play until the half. The Eagles kicked back off to the Lions but a fumble on the return brought the Eagle offense right back out to the field.
The fumble was recovered by Jackson Moore on the Lion 36 yard line, but a sideline interference penalty pushed the Eagles back to midfield. Between penalties and short rushes the Eagles made their way to the ten yard line where Willie Taylor rushed the ball to the five yard line and Jones moved it the rest of the way into the endzone for an Eagle touchdown. Rice’s extra point kick was good and the Eagles led 14-13 with less than a minute to play in the half.
The Lions started another drive, but another fumble recovered by Eagle Deeraymond Herman, brought the Lion defense right back out. The Eagles started on the 37 yard line and ultimately attempted a 33 yard field goal, but the kick was not good and the score sat at 14-13 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Eagles kicked off to the Lions, but a fumble on the first play of the drive gave the ball right back to the Eagles.
The Lion defense didn’t give in and stops by Jamal Brewer, Harrod and Chris Wilson ultimately forced the Eagles to turn the ball over after a failed attempt at fourth and six.
Hamburg started midfield and after a few short passes from Rice to Taylor, Rice completed a 43 yard pass to Nick McNeil for a Lion touchdown. Jesus Aguilar kicked in the extra point and the score was 20-14 with 9:13 on the clock in the third.
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Hamburg kicked off to the Eagles and Jones returned the ball 18 yards to the Eagle 36 yard line and on the next play ran it 64 more yards into the endzone.
Rice kicked in an extra point and Crossett was back in the lead 21-20.
The rest of the game was a battle back and forth as neither team scored again making 21-20 the final.
Cossey said that though the Lions lost he still feels they played a game to be proud of. “Our players and coaches left everything we had on that field Friday night. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to win the game, but I am extremely proud of our team right now,” Cossey said. “That amount of adversity would have been enough to defeat several teams I’ve coached in the past. But, not this group of young men. They are battling every single week.”
He also said that he wasn’t going to let anyone blame the rain or the officials for the loss. “We will not sit around and blame the rain or the officials for our loss. Anytime in life that we face adversity, it is easy to look to someone else to blame. Usually, the hardest person to hold accountable is the man in the mirror. Starting with me and all the way down the team, we will focus on what the man in the mirror can learn from and how he can do better. That’s how we will respond to this tough loss,” Cossey said.
The Lions will spend the week going over their mistakes from Friday night so that they can improve on them for the coming weeks. “We had five chances to win the game in the second half but did not get it done,” Cossey said. “We need to use our mistakes in the second half and the final outcome of that game to fuel us as we move forward.”
The Lions are 3-2 in conference with the same record as the Star City Bulldogs. Crossett is sitting in the number one spot with a 5-0 conference record and Warren is just behind them with a 4-1 record leaving Hamburg and Star City tied in the number three slot with two games left to play.
The Lions will host Warren on Friday night at Campbell field at 7 p.m. This will be the last regular season home game as the Lions will travel to Dumas on Nov. 7 to face the Dumas Bobcats to finish out the regular season.