Published 2:34 am Saturday, October 24, 2009
PLANTERSVILLE — First-year Dallas County football coach Darryl Burns had seen it too many times this year.
Missed assignments, big plays, last-minute scores, bruising running backs, more big plays, kickoffs and fumbles returned for touchdowns.
The difference Friday night was his Hornets weren’t the ones being the victims. The Livingston Cougars were taking the lumps this time as Dallas County started out with a 22-point lead to celebrate homecoming with a 42-20 victory.
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Dallas County used a newfound rushing attack to roll up an unofficial 270 yards on the ground with four touchdowns rushing.
“We ran the ball better tonight than we have been,” Burns said after his Hornets picked up their third victory against six losses. “We were able to establish a running game and that helped our passing.”
For the Hornets, the victory was important.
“We needed that win,” Burns said. “We still had a ton of penalties, especially on the offensive line. I don’t understand it; in practice we don’t do it. I told the line at halftime to just relax.”
Livingston (2-7) put itself in a hole early when the Cougars’ first punt of the game went backwards. Kicking from its own 18, Livingston gave the ball over to Dallas County at the Cougars’ 12.
Two plays later, sophomore fullback Anthony Finney scored his first of two TDs from 4 yards. Quarterback Justin McAfee hit DeAndre Lee for the two-point PAT and 8-0 lead.
Punting woes bit Livingston again on its next series. The Cougars started from their own 31 and — after one first down — were forced to punt from the 32 after a sack and a penalty. The snap went over the punter’s head, and the Hornets took over at the Livingston 9.
Two plays later, Nathaniel Bell bounced over left tackle for the final five yards.
Four plays, two touchdowns, 14-0 lead.
Dallas County’s defense took over and stopped the next Livingston drive at the Hornets’ 27. After a delay penalty, Dallas County started at its own 22-yard line.
The Hornets mounted a nine-play, 78-yard drive that McAfee capped with a fake handoff pulling Livingston’s defense to the wrong side of the field. McAfee turned down the left sideline for the final 29 yards, threw the two-point PAT to Thomas Beach and stretched the Hornets’ lead to 22-0.
With time running out in the second quarter, the Livingston defense stopped Brandon Harvell on a run around left end at the Cougars’ 40 and punched out the football, scooped it up and returned it for its only score in the first half with 0:02 on the clock.
Harvell, however, attoned for the suspect fumble returned for a touchdown when he took the ensuing kickoff down the right sideline for a touchdown as the siren sounded. The Dallas County lead was 28-6 at halftime.
To open the third quarter, Dallas County fumbled the ball over to Livingston at the Cougars’ 40. Three plays later, the Hornets’ Cortland Henry jumped on a Livingston fumble at the Dallas County 31.
The Hornets strung together 12 plays to get to the Cougars’ 15-yard line for a fourth-and-10 situation. In the only complete pass of the series, McAfee tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to DeAndre McIntyre and a 34-6 lead with 3:52 in the third quarter.
Livingston put together two big plays in the fourth quarter to cut the margin to 34-20 with 1:19 to play. On the first score, southpaw quarterback Demetrius Brown threw a 37-yard pass to Robert Chapman with 7:47 left in the game. Then Brown tossed a 19-yard TD aerial to Deuantye Cook at the 1:19 mark.
After 20 yards in penalties against Livingston on the ensuing onside kick attempt, Finney got his second TD on the first play from scrimmage. He went through the middle of the Dallas County line for a 33-yard score, dragging one potential tackler into the end zone. McAfee’s PAT toss to Javarius Jones ended the scoring.
Dallas County wraps up its season Friday with a home against Billingsley.