The Hamburg Lions got their second conference win against Star City on Friday night in overtime.
Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said the game the defense put together, for the second week in a row, was outstanding.
“The Bulldogs have averaged 32 points per game this season and we shut them out for a half and held them to 7 until late in the fourth,” Coach Cossey said. “Even with overtime the 17 points our defense allowed was a season low for Star City.”
Derrick Franklin led the Lion defense with 15 tackles including 3 and half tackles for loss. Bruin Barnes also came up with a huge interception on a fourth down. Dalton Howard recovered a fumble.
“Every single player on our defense made huge contributions at one time or another,” Cossey said.
On the first drive of the game, the Lions were forced to punt. However, on Star City’s first offensive play, Howard recovered a fumble giving the ball right back to the Lions on the Bulldog 26 yard line.
Four plays later, the Lions were in the endzone. Jesus Aguilar kicked in the extra point and the Lions led 7-0.
The teams battled back and forth for the rest of the first quarter and the entire second, but neither team scored leaving the half time score at 7-0.
After the break, the Lions kicked to Star City, but forced them to punt. Hamburg started a drive midfield, but three plays in Brett Rice threw an interception giving the ball back to Star City.
The Lion defense took the field and on the first play Franklin and Gill sacked for a loss. Two incomplete passes forced the Bulldogs to punt and the Lions started another drive on their own 44 yard line.
Rice completed a pass to Hunter Edwards and after a few short rush plays, Nic Bridges broke away for a 25 yard run into the endzone. Aguilar’s kick was good and the Lions led 14-0 with 5:15 to play in the third quarter.
Star City answered with a touchdown and PAT minutes after the clock rolled into the fourth quarter making the score 14-7.
The Bulldogs forced the Lions to punt and the Lion defense took the field. Star City went four and out, but a fumble on the punt return gave the ball right back midfield with only eight minutes left to play.
They moved the ball all the way to the Lion 17 yard line and on fourth and eleven, Barnes picked off the ball taking it back for the Lions.
The Lion offense wasn’t able to move the ball and punted right back to Star City.
Star City started a drive midfield with a little more than two minutes on the clock and managed to tie the score 14 all before the buzzer sounded.
The Lions got the ball back with around a minute left on the clock, but they weren’t able to score forcing the game into overtime.
The Lions held Star City to a field goal and then Gavin Harrod ran the ball into the endzone for a touchdown giving them a 21-17 win over the Bulldogs.
Cossey said the offensive staff decided to go to their “jumbo package” for overtime. Even though Cossey wasn’t completely on board with the choice at the time, he said, the offensive staff convinced him and the rest is history.
Though the Lions have won two in a row, they are still battling injuries. “The injuries are still out of control,” Cossey said.
DJ Johnson and Connor Jones will not be returning this season and Cossey had six on the sidelines not even dressed out.
The Lions moved up freshman Cam’ron Holmes and Cossey said he started the game hot, but he even went down with a possible knee injury.
“We are hoping it’s just a sprain and that he will be back next week,” Cossey said.
For the third week in a row, the Lions have had their starting running back injured early in the game.
During the Star City game, Bridges had to go in as quarter back for two drives as Rice was sidelined temporarily for injury.
“I’ve coached for 15 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Cossey said.
“Our response to adversity has been outstanding, it’s almost unbelievable that we are 4-2 and 2-1 in our conference considering the amount of injuries and adversity we have had to overcome,” Cossey said.
The biggest thing Cossey said the Lions have to do to prepare for West Helena is heal.
“As far as West Helena, they are extremely talented and fast, and they are 5-1 for a reason,” Cossey said.
In order for the Lions to win this week, Cossey said they will have to continue to improve their defense, become more consistent on offense and be dominant on special teams.
The Lions will host West Helena (Central) on Friday night at Campbell field. Kick off will be at 7 p.m.