BARNESVILLE -- For a half, Howard had its game with Lamar County right where it wanted it.
The Huskies, winners of just two games in the past three seasons, took early control against Lamar County, a team that is ranked seventh in GHSA Class AA after a trip to the Georgia Dome last season. Two first-half touchdowns and a near shutdown of the Trojans’ offense demonstrated the team’s offseason progress under second-year head coach Barney Hester.
And while Lamar County rallied in the third quarter, Howard ultimately held the Trojans to a draw. The non-region contest finished in a tie at 19, with the sides agreeing not to take the game to overtime.
“Defensively, I think we’re a pretty good football team,” Hester said. “Offensively, we can be pretty good. We still have a long ways to go, but we played well in the first half.”
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While Lamar County played in last year’s Class AA championship game, this was not the same Trojans squad that took the field last season. Three of the team’s key players from last season are now on the Georgia Tech roster, and its head coach from last season, Franklin Stephens, is now at Ware County.
Still, Howard, which started a lot of sophomores last season, dominated in the first half. The Huskies held Lamar County to 43 yards and three first downs before the break while its offense recorded 137 total yards in the first half.
“We had to make some adjustments there,” said Lamar County head coach Jamie Abrams, who was promoted from defensive coordinator after Stephens’ departure. “They had a great game plan. They are a much, much improved football team from previous years. They believe that they can win just like we believe we can win.”
Junior quarterback Courvosier King accounted for both of Howard’s first-half touchdowns. He scored on a bootleg keeper from 25 yards out midway through the first quarter, and he added a 1-yard score with a little more than a minute remaining in the half when he bounced off the pile and reached the end zone on a second effort.
Lamar County finally got its offense going in the second half, thanks to a couple of Howard miscues and the play of Noah Eure, who scored two second-half touchdowns en route to a 124-yard night.
The game turned on the first series of the second half. Howard held Lamar County to three-and-out on the Trojans’ first series, but a muffed punt gave the ball right back to Lamar County. The Trojans drove six more plays en route to a 2-yard run by Marcus Fuller.
Howard, however, never let Lamar County move into the lead.
JaQwun Stinson scored on an 8-yard run between Eure’s touchdown runs of 5 and 21 yards, and the game essentially turned into a stalemate.
“We played well,” Hester said. “Lamar County is a good football team with great tradition and does everything right. You’re never happy with a tie, but it is what it is.”
Lamar County’s Cullen Bennett attempted a 41-yard field goal as time expired, but the kick was partially blocked.