By Melissa Meador
“We had too many penalties tonight, probably over 100 yards in the first half. In the second half, we came out flat and with no energy,” Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. “That’s a pretty good football team. We knew they were going to come out and hit us in the mouth, and we didn’t respond very well. We’re glad to get the win, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Pallas Fair’s interception of Vardaman QB Brandon Walker gave the Lions (3-1, 1-0 Division 1-1A) the ball at the Rams’ 41, and Keshon Heard scored on a 17-yard run four plays later.
A short kick on Hamilton’s next possesion gave the Lions the ball at the Vardaman 19, and Heard found the end zone again, this time on a 2-yard run.
A long punt from Tanner Dement pinned the Rams inside the 5-yard line on their fourth drive of the game, and a host of Lions took down Walker for a team safety and a 15-0 lead at the start of the second. Fair’s 9-yard run with 7:24 until halftime put Hamilton up 22-0.
A big 40-yard run from Quon Cummings to open Vardaman’s first possession of the second half gave the Rams some momentum, and after a pair of costly penalties for Hamilton, Tavis Townsend punched it in from 3 yards out to cut the lead to 22-7.
A fumble gave the Rams the ball back two plays later on the Lions’ 19, but Hamilton’s defense came up with a stop in the red zone.
“We played better on defense in the second half and made some things happen, but we always take advantage of them on offense,” Vardaman coach Larry Gann said. “I’m proud of our efforts in the second half, but it’s a two-half ball game. We didn’t play very well in the first half.”
Vardaman (0-4, 0-1 Division 1-1A) came up with another turnover, this one a pick of Hamilton QB Byron Butler returned to the 2-yard line, but Heard came up with an interception of his own in the end zone.
“Those were some big plays there for us. If we hadn’t stepped up and made those plays, it could have been a 22-14 or 22-15 game right there,” Weeks said.
Hamilton took control in the closing minutes with a safety from Sequintis Coleman and Davis Hankins, and Fair scoring with a 37-yard TD run after the free kick. Fair finished with 149 yards on the ground, while Heard added another 54 yards.
Weeks complimented the play of Fair, in addition to backup QB Butler, who was filling in for Quinshay Heard, and fullback Aaron Fontenot.
“Pallas stepped up tonight. We ran Keshon hard the first half, and he was a little tired so we let Pallas carry a big load in the second half,” Weeks said. “He and Aaron did a great job running the ball inside and getting some time off the clock for us.”
“Byron did a great job tonight. We kind of held the reins in on him a little bit, but we threw the ball a few times, and he made some good passes and missed a few, which is expected. For overall performance, I thought he did well. He didn’t make many mistakes, controlled the offense and protected the ball.”
Gann stressed Vardaman’s need to improve on both sides of the ball as division play continues for the Rams next week at home against Houlka.
“We look good at times but we’re not consistent with executing when it comes time. We have mental lapses. We’re getting there, but it’s slow going,” Gann said. “We’re not only young, but we’re inexperienced, and our older guys haven’t played much. We’ll come back Monday and try to get better next week.”