There are two instances in which a team and community really want to win a football game. That is on Senior Night and the last game of the season. You always want to send your seniors out the right way and ending the season with a win gives the players, coaches, and even fans something to build on towards the next year. There are games during the season, whether it be wins or losses, where many may not remember every little detail. Everyone remembers the last one.
That’s a good thing for the Russell County Warriors this year, as they defeated Booker T. Washington 35-6 in front of a happy home crowd. The Warrior defense started the game off strong, holding the Golden Eagles to a three and out on their first possession to open the game. Jamiere Willis led the defense on the drive with a tackle for loss. A 40-yard punt return gave the Russell County offense favorable field position for their first drive and they quickly took advantage of it. A 14-yard run by Azayvier Lokey set up a nine-yard touchdown run by Myrick Jackson. The extra point kicked in by Carlos Sampedro, who was five for five on the night, gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
Booker T. Washington was able to answer with a touchdown of its own on the next possession, running the ball five times for 47 yards and cutting the lead to 7-6 after a missed two-point conversion. Quarterback Dammuon Epps had a 40-yard touchdown called back on the ensuing possession for the Warriors, giving the ball back to BTW. The Warriors were able to take advantage of the Golden Eagles turning the ball over on downs with a 22-yard touchdown run from Courtney Martin. The extra point gave Russell County a 14-6 lead. It was all Warriors after this score, as the defense began to step up and assert their authority towards the end of the second quarter.
This began with a 50 yard interception return by Dasheen Jackson. A couple of plays later, Lokey ran the ball 50 yards to the house for Russell County’s third touchdown of the game and a 21-6 lead with 2:00 minutes to go before halftime. With BTW looking to answer with a score of its own before halftime, Lokey then stepped it up on defense. He had a perfect angle and perfect timing from his defensive back position on a slant pass and rocked the Golden Eagles receiver to the ground. The hit drew a response from the fans that had them on their feet. It also assured that the Warriors entered halftime with a 21-6 lead.
The Warrior offense couldn’t get anything going on their first possession of the second half, but the defense was able to help them out. After punting the ball over to BTW, it was Dasheen Jackson time again. The sophomore was able to intercept another pass and return it 50 yards again. The two teams traded punts before Russell County took over at the 47-yard line. The drive lasted through the end of the third quarter and ended in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Epps to Omarion Rogers. The touchdown and extra point after gave the Warriors a 28-6 lead.
Russell County’s kickoff team then entered the field and recovered an onside kick. The Warriors drove the ball to the 27-yard line, but weren’t able to take advantage of the recovery and turned the ball over on downs. The Warrior defense stepped up again, with Willis coming up with another tackle for loss on third down. Russell County blocked the punt on the next play, giving the offense the ball at the BTW 13-yard line. Juwan Williams and Martin had runs that put the ball in the red zone at the five-yard line. Lokey then took the ball in for the Warriors last touchdown of the game with 2:00 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The extra point put the game at it’s final score of 35-6.
Epss was 1-4 passing for 10 yards, with the only completion being the touchdown pass to Rogers. Epps also had 24 rushing attempts for 49 yards. Lokey rushed the ball 11 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Martin took advantage of his two rushing attempts, running for 46 yards and one touchdown. Myrick Jackson also had a touchdown run. Dasheen Jackson added five tackles to his two interceptions. Willis added four tackles and a sack to his two tackles for loss. Royal Tufono helped the defense with four total tackles, including two tackles for loss. Lokey added six tackles of his own.
Head coach Mark Rose is proud of his team for finishing up the season on a high note and is especially proud of his seniors.
“The defense gave up a little too much in the first half, but Booker T Washington had been scoring a lot of points. We only had four possessions in the first half, but scored on three and had a touchdown called back on the other possession. The defense played better in the second half and we were able to play most everybody.”
Rose is proud of the effort from his players this season and is excited for the future.
“One of our coaches just let me know that we scored the most points a Russell County team has scored in a season since 1998. We get a lot of starters back and will expect them to be more consistent on both sides of the ball. They worked hard and played hard, and that’s what we wanted to establish this year. We’re excited to see what the region alignments will be and we’re excited to start working towards next year.”