The Lithia Springs Lions went on the road Friday night, losing 41-9 to the Hiram Hornets. While the final score is indicative of a blow out, Lithia played fairly well early to keep it close. The Lions were in the lead at the half, 9-7.
Hiram struck first. After converting two fourth downs. The Hornets capped off the drive with a quarterback sneak, as Jacob Lester fell over the goalline for a 7-0 advantage with just under four minutes to play in the first quarter.
It looked as if luck was on Lithia's side in the second quarter. Driving down the field for the tying score, Jadon Walker dropped back looking for one of his teammates in the end zone and instead he found the wrong colored jersey.
While the interception negated a Lithia touchdown, the Lions caught a break. Hiram intercepted the ball in the endzone, but instead of immediately downing it, the Hiram player ran the ball out of the end zone but then back in. He was tackled for a safely.
Trailing 7-2, Lithia's first half fortune continued. With just 10 seconds left until halftime, Walker connected with Ahmad Ross for a leaping 20-yard touchdown catch and the 9-7 halftime lead.
The luck for Lithia ran dry in the second half, as Hiram scored 35 unanswered points in the third quarter to run away with the game.
Hiram's opening drive to begin the third resulted in full back, Noah Stowers, converting a fourth and goal from the one to give the Hornets the 14-9 lead.
Two minutes later, Lithia turned the ball over on Walker's second interception of the game. Hiram converted the turnover into points when Chris Miller ran it in from 30 yards out for the 21-9 lead.
Turnovers was a big issue for Lithia, especially interceptions, as Walker had three picks on the night.
"You don't get any better without reps," said Lithia's Coach Craig Chatman. "Jadon is good, but he's just a sophomore. We have to let him play, he will get better. Someday we'll be looking back, talking about how much better he has gotten."
The most impressive play of the night came with 3:38 left in the third quarter when Miller hit the hole and bounced outside, breaking several tackles and avoiding defenders for a 60-yard touchdown and the 28-9 advantage.
Hiram proved its third quarter dominance, capping off the quarter with an amazing leaping touchdown catch, when Lester found Jonathan Greenard with 20 seconds left.
The story of the game was definitely turnovers. In what was a fitting end to the game, Hiram’s Edwin Ford intercepted the ball and returned it for a touchdown as time expired.
"Our nemesis of the whole year rears it's ugly head, turnovers! Our kids play hard, but we have to start executing better, and that lays on my shoulders," said Chatman. "If we protect the football we're pretty good. That's on me, that's all on me."
Chatman knows that in order to be successful the turnovers must stop, and the execution must get better.
"We play Villa Rica at home, it's our homecoming and we need to right the ship,” said Chatman. "Our guys are tough, they'll respond. We just have to put four quarters together."