After a long spring camp and summer workouts, football season is finally here as Lithia Springs defeated New Manchester 14-7 on Friday night.
While fans came out in waves as if it was postseason play, the actual play on the field reminded us that the regular season has yet to get underway.
Both teams struggled moving the ball throughout most of the first half, and it was the sloppy play from New Manchester that resulted into the games' first points.
With just under five minutes left in the second quarter, Lithia Springs' Marzavian Dix made a game-changing play, tipping a pass at the line of scrimmage, then snatching it out the air and running 35 yards for the touchdown. Amir Outlaw converted the extra-point for the 7-0 lead.
The interception was the fourth turnover for New Manchester in the first half.
"We weren't very smart today," New Manchester Head Coach Myron Terry said. "We just have to get tougher. We have to pay attention to detail."
The Lions struck again at the 2:29 mark, this time it was Quinterrios Houston running right off tackle for 45 yards, helping Lithia take a 14-0 lead into halftime.
Just like the first, defense dominated much of the second half.
New Manchester got into the red zone three different times but came up empty.
"We gotta score some points," Terry said. "We dropped touchdowns, we ran the wrong routes, we just have to play better."
While their previous visits was unsuccessful, the fourth time was the charm, as the Jaguars finally broke through with just 3:55 left to play. Marvin Walton punched it in from four yards out to make it a one possession game, 14-7.
After stopping Lithia, New Manchester got the ball with a chance to tie, with just under two minutes to play. But again it was defense that made the difference.
The Lions got a team sack to force fourth-and-long, then made the stop the next play, forcing a turnover-on-downs and sealing the victory with 56 seconds.
“That was big win for our defense,” Lithia Springs coach Kevin Hill said.
Though he felt there were some things they can improve upon, Head Coach Hill was very pleased with his team's performance.
"Our motto is brick by brick," said Hill. "We're just trying to get better day by day, week by week."
Both teams kickoff the season away against non-conference foes on Aug. 25 as Lithia Springs plays at Douglas County and New Manchester will travel to Paulding.