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Lowndes tops Hooper

HAYNEVILLE — For Lowndes Academy, Friday night’s 33-6 win over Hooper was a tale of two teams.

The first was a mistake-prone unit that appeared nervous and repeatedly shot itself in the foot. The second caught fire, broke a tie then broke away.

Lowndes quarterback Anderson Casey connected with tight end Hunter Shifferd on a 67-yard touchdown to break a scoreless tie and give Lowndes a 7-0 lead with 3:05 remaining in the second quarter.

“It hit me right on my fingertips,” said Shifferd. “I just pulled it in and took off. Probably the fastest I’ve run all year.”

The play was exactly what the doctor ordered for Casey.

“When I threw it, I thought I got the ball up too high,” said Casey. “I kind of settled in after that. I got in a little groove and felt a lot better after that.”

On Hooper’s ensuing possession Lowndes defensive back Chance Ward picked off a pass from Hooper quarterback Hayden Kelly, and the Rebels took over at the Hooper 26.

“That’s big any time you get an interception,” said Lowndes coach Art Sullivan. “I thought our secondary played well.”

Lowndes running back Brandon Pate wasted little time, rushing 26 yards for a touchdown to give Hooper a 14-0 lead with 1:46 remaining in the half, and put the Rebels on track to a rout.

The half’s last few minutes were not indicative of what preceded them. The Rebels missed several tackles and couldn’t move the ball for most of the first quarter.

They strung together two first downs to close out the quarter — including a fourth-and-inches conversion by running back Tyler Bozeman — but threw an interception two plays later to stall yet another drive.

“That’s a 10th-grade quarterback for you,” said Sullivan. “I just told him to forget about it. He got more comfortable, and as the year goes on, I think he’s going to get better and better.”

Things looked bleak for most of the second quarter as well, before a third down, 14-yard run by Bozeman negated an 8-yard loss suffered by Casey. On the next play, Casey and Shifferd hooked up on the bomb that put the Rebels ahead.

Lowndes picked up where it left off in the second half. The Rebels forced Hooper to punt on its opening possession. The snap went over punter Chris Kennedy’s head, and he fell on it at the Colts’ 19.

The Rebels again quickly took advantage as Casey — a sophomore quarterback who got better as the game went on — faked out the entire Hooper defense and ran around the left side for a 16-yard touchdown to put Lowndes ahead 21-0.

Two possessions later, Rebel defensive lineman Ty Overstreet picked up a Kelly fumble at the Colts’ 21-yard-line, and the Rebels were in business again.

Five plays later, Ward put the game out of reach with a 1-yard scamper around the right side. The extra point attempt was mishandled, but Lowndes led 27-0.

The Colts got on the board in the fourth quarter. The 8-play drive was capped off with a Kelly-to-Garrett Smith 26-yard touchdown connection — which went just over Ward’s outstretched hands — to cut the score to 27-6.

Lowndes answered and finished the scoring 49 seconds later with a 63-yard touchdown run from Pate.