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Devils continue ‘special year’ with win over Dragons

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By Bill Sorrell

In Beale Street Flippers style, Germantown defensive back Ladrico Hymon turned flips on the 20-yard line as he celebrated Germantown’s 34-14 victory over Collierville on Friday at Germantown and then heard the PA system blast Kohl & The Gang’s “Celebration” whose lyrics begin “Celebrate good times.”

Are good times back for Germantown’s football team?

“We Are Tradition” read a stadium sign and city championship t-shirts were being sold at concession stands celebrating the Red Devils’ 35-24 victory over Houston.

“It feels good,” said Germantown Head Coach Chris Smith. “I feel like Germantown is a football town with football tradition. It’s good to see us being able to unite. Football is a big deal in Germantown and we want to keep it relevant.”

Relevancy has come in a 4-0 start, surpassing the three-win total from last season.

“Our guys really wanted to win the rival series against Houston and Collierville,” Smith said. “The guys actually expected to start out this way even though a lot of people on the outside may not. They have been working since December and January lifting weights and running.”

Germantown quarterback Ethan Payne said, “We just believe we can make it all the way. We can go as far as we want to make it. Last year, I don’t think as many bought into the program as what we needed to to win. I think this year we are buying into it and we can see now that we have a chance to beat anybody as long as we play our game.”

Germantown kept it going against the Dragons with big plays: A 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior Jaylin Williams, the first of his career, a 54-yard reception by Ted Lyons from Payne for a touchdown, a 75-yard return of a fumble by Lyons for a touchdown, a 44-yard touchdown pass from Payne to Williams and Kayson Joe’s 13-yard touchdown run.

Senior running back Rezimond Robinson gained 124 of Germantown’s 215 yards rushing on 17 carries, including six straight in the third quarter. Payne completed 8 of 25 passes for 137 yards.

The offensive line of right tackle Max Martini, right guard Isaiah Hayden, center Tyler Boyd, left guards Henry Castillo and Alan Patterson, left tackles Nick Ferri and Michael Goodwin buoyed the running and passing game.

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“I though the offensive line played well,” said Smith. “We rolled some guys in and they are a big-time unit.”

Citing the O-line as a factor in the victory, Payne said, “I had more time to throw. I could have thrown twice I had so much time. They set the tone for the game every night. They came out tonight and they blocked amazingly and we ran the ball, we threw the ball. I think that is what really stood out the most.”

Germantown’s defense also stood out. The Red Devils held Collierville to seven yards rushing for the game.

“The good thing about today was our defense. We gave up two touchdowns early but after that we didn’t allow anything else,” said Williams.

Tyrec Collins and Lyons each had eight tackles (including seven solo) with Collins’ having 6.5 yards lost and a sack of six yards. Jalon Greer had five tackles.

“I thought the secondary played extremely well. They gave us some tough looks, empty formations and trips, threw it a lot and put a lot of stress on our secondary. Some of our safeties had some good moments,” said Smith.

The Dragons had some good moments.

Senior quarterback Matt Connors completed 21 of 46 passes for 241 yards with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Bersoza, his third touchdown reception this season. It tied the game at 14 and was Connors’ longest touchdown pass of the season. Bersoza had a game-high 135 yards on 11 catches.

“This was my best game so far in the season,” said Bersoza. “The touchdown that I scored gave us hope moving on into the game and we all thought we could compete the entire game.”

Connors said, “It was a great play by him to break away to get that catch and fall away for the touchdown. That was a big play for our offense.”

The Dragons (2-2) took a 7-0 lead on Connors’ 38-yard pass to Kayvon Anderson with 5:50 left in the first quarter.

Anderson finished with two catches for 48 yards, Auggie Burke one for 20, Justin Stonework three for 19, Cole Johnson three for 15 and Caleb Harris one for four yards.

Pleased with his team’s defense, Collierville Head Coach Mike O’Neill said there were a couple of dropped balls that could have been touchdowns.

“We have to make our money in the throwing game,” O’Neill said. “We had success in that early on. Right now we are one dimensional. We have got to get back to being able to run the football. We knew that we were not going to have a ton of success in our running game. They loaded the box up. We are not very big up front. They are very fast.

“What we did wrong was the kickoff coverage,” he continued. “Obviously that got them back in the game. The special teams play hurt us. Obviously the fumble they ran back (hurt).”

Trailing 21-14 with 10:15 left in the third quarter, Connors got the Dragons to the Red Devils’ 13-yard line before fumbling at the 15. Lyons scooped it up at the 25 and ran to the end zone for a 27-14 lead.

“I just ran as hard as I could and did what I had to do for the team,” said Lyons.

“After that we said that we weren’t going to let up,” said Williams.

Quick to take responsibility, Connors said, “Obviously that fumble cost us a lot. So I have to work on ball security this week. I tried to bounce back. I started missing a lot of throws after that. I don’t think it was a mental thing. I was not making plays.”

Johnson, who had a 34-yard kick return, said, “We were only a touchdown down and we are driving. We are in the red zone and fumble and they picked it up for a touchdown. That is the kind of play that you beat yourself on. You are wishing you could get that back but that is part of the game. So it happens. There is nothing more we can do than get better from this.”

Said Bersoza, “It was a good game in the first half. When the second half started we started kicking ourselves in the butt. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We have got to put this loss behind us and focus on the week ahead. We weren’t able to rebound as well as thought we could but we still have room to improve this next week.”

Collierville plays at Cordova. Germantown hosts Southaven. Both games are at 7 p.m.

Two plays became turning points for the Red Devils.

“Probably the most important came when I rolled right and threw back left to Ted Lyons and he caught it for a touchdown and ran and trucked that dude at the end. I thought that was a big momentum builder for us and also made us more hyped for the second half,” said Payne.

Lyons caught Payne’s pass at the Red Devils’ 46 and barreled down the left sideline. He ran over defenders in route.

“I put the team on my back and get going. I just believed,” said Lyons.

Smith said, “When Ted ran the over route that put us up 21-14 that was a huge play. He ran through three or four people and when he picked up the fumble it almost looked like he fell down going for it. Ted has really good hands. He picked it up almost with one hand and took it the distance. He had nothing in the tank. It was a great play. We told him it was a team effort and he took it for the team. Ted played as many snaps as anybody. He played both ways. He played tough.”

Collierville took a 7-0 lead on a 55-yard drive on Anderson’s touchdown reception and Caleb Myers’ PAT.

It took Germantown one play to tie.

“The first drive didn’t go as we planned. Then all of a sudden he (Williams) comes out with a 99-yard touchdown. That helped us gain some momentum to score more,” Payne said.

During the run Williams was thinking about it being a rivalry game and to stay tuned in.

“Without the team, I couldn’t do anything I did tonight,” said Williams, who has committed to play at Indiana next year.

Smith said, “That put us back on track.”

Said Bersoza, “He (Williams) is a good player. He was all over us tonight. He was everywhere.”

Smith said, “Jaylin had a good game considering that Collierville played him tough. We had an injury at wide receiver (Cameron Baker) that changed the way teams are playing us. They wanted to make it hard on him but we found some ways to get him the ball. When he got the ball, Jaylin did what Jaylin does. He makes plays.”

O’Neill said that cornerback Virgil Pryor played “a good game. He had a lot of success against their star receiver (Williams). He played pretty solid. I though Cade Cupp made a lot of plays at his sam linebacker position.”

Collierville’s defense was led by Cupp, who made a game-high 15 tackles including 10 solos. Wyatt Raines had 13 tackles with seven solos.

Pryor and Jordan Henderson each made five tackles.

Joe’s touchdown gave Germantown a 13-7 lead with 1:27 left in the first quarter and Ware made it 14-7.

Bersoza’s TD tied it at 14 after Myers’ extra point with 1:03 left in the first.

Lyons’ 54-yard touchdown run came with 2:44 left in the second quarter and Ware kicked his third PAT for a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Germantown’s third quarter running belonged to Robinson, who had 10 carries for 76 yards and three first downs.

“We have great confidence in all those running backs, not just Rezimond,” said Smith. “He had the hot hand tonight.”

Payne said that the Red Devils have more running plays where those came from.

“Honestly, we haven’t run all of our plays,” he noted. “We still have tons and tons of plays left in the playbook. So, if you think that we run the same plays over and over again, well maybe so, but they are working.”

Along with Robinson, B.J. Gardner rushed for 17 yards for the Red Devils, Joe 51, Williams 10, Jaylen Givens 45. Williams caught one pass for 47 yards, Givens one for 32 yards.

Collierville punter Kyle Colwick averaged 37 yards on nine punts while Ware averaged 32.4 on five.

After Lyons’ fumble recovery TD, the Red Devils scored their final touchdown on Williams’ reception with 6:07 left in the game. Ware made it 34-14.

Smith complimented Payne’s game.

“I thought Ethan had a great game. They played us tough tonight. We had to shuffle some pieces around where we were a little banged up offensively but he was able to still make the big throws when they counted and manage the game when it counted,” said Smith.

O’Neill said of Payne, “He was off the radar last year. I know he is a good athlete. He is a baseball kid, too. He a good quarterback who distributes the ball well. They have improved no doubt.”

Connors said that Collierville’s big plays helped the Dragons bounce back.

“I thought we were looking good. I was surprised at the scoring and not putting more points on the board. I know a lot of that falls on me so I take responsibility for that. We have got to come back and work harder because we have a tough Cordova defense we have to face. We didn’t quit the whole game even though we were down. We kept coming back and we are fighting. I liked the morale on the team for the most part. I think we take that into next week and know we have just got to keep pushing.”

O’Neill said that his team will focus on Cordova, which he termed “equally as good.

“We have got to go back to work,” he said.

For Lyons, going 4-0 to start the season feels “unbelievable.”

Williams added, “We don’t want to go out like last year. I think this is a special year and a special group of guys.”

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