Miscues, blown assignments and two big running plays proved to be the difference Tuesday as Hamburg defeated McGehee 15-0 in the first game of the Simmons First/Hootens.com Kickoff Week doubleheader at Golden Lion Stadium.
“We blew some assignments tonight on both sides of the ball,” McGehee head coach Marcus Haddock said. “We got to do a better job of doing the mental stuff right.”
Hamburg had a 3-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but two big runs by two unlikely backs led to two touchdowns for the Lions, sealing the win.
With 11:46 left in the game, junior Damarion Mills broke a 59-yard touchdown run to give the Lions a 9-0 lead with the missed extra point. It was Mills’ only carry of the game.
“You never know when the big plays are going to happen and you got to be ready for them,” Haddock said. “They had two long runs that we hadn’t let them have all night.
“But our defense kind of let down a little bit and when you do that, against kids that talented and that fast, it shows up pretty quick.”
On Hamburg’s next possession, junior Deandre Rachal ran for 42 yards down the left side of the field to set up a first-and-10 at their opponents’ 14. Four plays later, Kevin Miller scored from 2 yards out to give the Lions a 15-0 lead with 5:31 left.
“It is called getting whipped,” Haddock said. “They worked harder than we did and that’s the name of the game.
“You got to do things to try to make plays and they did better than we did.”
Rachal had just three carries – all in the second half – for 54 yards in the win. Miller had about 60 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown.
McGehee, who averaged 34 points a game last season, had opportunities to score, but penalties and overthrown passes kept the Owls off the board.
“You say, ‘Shoot yourself in the foot,’ but I think we shot both legs off tonight,” Haddock said. “Having a touchdown called back, having a wide open pass missed and having third-and-2 at like the 6-yard line, and a motion penalty sets you back.
“That’s stuff in the first game and the last game that you can’t have, and we did that way too much tonight.”
With 3:47 left in the first quarter, McGehee had a first-and-goal on the 8. But a holding call moved the Owls back to the 18 and on third down, a false start moved them back to the 22.
McGehee attempted to go for it on fourth down to begin the second quarter, but the pass fell incomplete.
Haddock put a lot of the miscues on his shoulders, citing the missed chance to play a scrimmage game.
“We didn’t play a scrimmage game this year because of the Tuesday thing,” Haddock said. “Not having that scrimmage game to get those jitters out was part of it.
“All in all, it was a pretty clean game. We didn’t have a lot of penalties, but the timing of them was not good.”
On their first possession, the Owls missed a 25-yard field goal after it sailed wide right. If it hadn’t been for a blown call, McGehee might have had a chance at a touchdown.
On second-and-10 on the 14-yard line, Hamburg was called for a facemask penalty. Under rule, the Owls should have been given an automatic first down and the ball be marked half the distance to the goal. But it wasn’t.
Instead, the Owls faced a third-and-9 and came up empty, forcing the field goal attempt.
McGehee had a chance to right the ship to begin the second half after it used 14-play possession to chew up just under 12 minutes of the third quarter. Unfortunately for them, the drive stalled once the Owls got into the red zone.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do,” Haddock said. “We didn’t change anything at halftime.
“Really there weren’t a whole lot of adjustments to make. Just stay with your assignment, work hard and finish.”
Sophomore Kaion Parker acted as the work horse for that opening possession, carrying it six times in the Owls’ opening drive of the second half. A cramp caused him to be pulled.
“Got to get him to drink a little bit more liquids so he don’t cramp up,” Haddocks said. “We had some people that got a cramp or two and we moved some folks around.
“It is hard to have some consistency with some different folks in there. We moved the ball well, but we need to move it better.”
Parker carried it 13 times for about 49 yards. Senior David Shepard had 50 yards on 11 carries. Quarterback Tabor McGraw was 1 for 7 for just 4 yards.
“We need to mix some things up and throw some play action pass a little better,” Haddock said.
McGehee (0-1) will host Dumas on Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
“Tonight, we took a loss,” Haddock said. “That’s what I want our kids to understand because they aren’t used to it.
“When you don’t execute in a ballgame, it is because you didn’t pay attention in practice. We missed some chances to execute tonight, that would have made a difference in the ball game.”