LHS gets first win over Polk in 9 years

Published 5:55 pm Monday, September 12, 2011

Landrum Cardinals and Polk Wolverines went face-to-face Friday, Sept. 9, with the Cardinals coming out on top and breaking two streaks for their program. The Cardinals beat the Wolverines for the first time in nine seasons and opened a season 3-0 for the first time since 2004. (photo by Joey Millwood)

The latest chapter in the Polk County-Landrum football saga was a dramatic one. Landrum clung to a 21-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines were driving.
On a second down on the six-yard-line, Wolverine quarterback Alec Philpott handed the ball off to Cary Littlejohn. Littlejohn ran for a touchdown up the middle.
On the next drive, Landrum answered.
Landrum quarterback Brandon Cannon threw a bullet down the right sideline to Peyton McCarter for a 32-yard touchdown.
The next play, however, proved to be the game changer. Up 27-26, the Cardinals lined up for the kickoff after the McCarter touchdown and surprised everyone in the stadium, especially the Polk special teams.
The Cardinals booted an onside kick and recovered it easily. Nine plays later, Cannon found Jordan Lindsey in the back of the endzone for the game-clinching touchdown to go up 34-26.
Two streaks ended for Landrum on Friday night.
For the last eight seasons, Polk County has owned the border rivalry with Landrum.

Three Landrum defenders tackle Polk’s Cary Littlejohn to the ground in the Cardinals’ win over the Wolverines. (photo by Joey Millwood)

In the process that snapped another streak.
Landrum hasn’t opened a season 3-0 since 2004.
On the back of another emotional victory, Landrum Head Coach Russell Mahaffey was elated after the game.
“It feels great (to snap the Polk County streak),” Mahaffey said. “It’s great for our program.”
One of Polk County’s main concerns coming into the ballgame, Wolverine head coach Bruce Ollis said, was Landrum’s spread offense and the ability to attack all points.
In the first half, Landrum offensive coordinator Tucker Hamrick had the Cardinal offense moving. Cannon guided the Cardinal offense down the field in the first drive, hitting Cole McDowell wide open in the flat for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Polk County (3-1), however, answered with a Jay Sutton touchdown on the next drive.
Cannon again led the Cardinals back down the field on the next drive. This time he connected with McCarter on a 16-yard pass. McCarter finished with 81 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“We played hard, fought hard and we went out and got it,” former Polk player and current Landrum defensive back T.J. Fincher said.
Cannon spread the ball around the entire game. He threw two touchdown passes to McCarter and two to McDowell. The final and game-clinching touchdown went to Jacob Lindsey.
The Wolverines didn’t roll over. Markece Cunningham picked up a fumble and ran it back 62 yards in the third quarter to tie the game at 14 all.
One of the more controversial plays came in the closing seconds of the first half.
The Wolverines driving, hoping to go into the locker rooms with some momentum. In the closing seconds of the first half, Philpott threw a short pass to Tyler Ridings. Ridings took off for the endzone and the Wolverine football team and fans celebrated what they thought was a touchdown. The referees ruled otherwise and Landrum went into the half with a 21-14 lead.
The Wolverines came out inspired in the second half and turned to star tailback Littlejohn. Littlejohn scored two touchdowns in the second half and tallied 117 yards in the game, but the Wolverines just couldn’t topple the Cardinals’ offense.
It was the Cardinals’ ability to make the big plays that was Polk’s downfall in the game, Ollis said.
“They executed a little better than we did,” Ollis said. “I thought that was the difference in the ball game. Gotta give them credit.”
For Landrum, the key was not only offense, but defense.
“To overcome the mistakes we made in the first half was big,” Mahaffey said. “The defense had their backs against the wall in this game and they came up big.”
Landrum will be on the road at Dixie next week. Polk plays Madison at home.

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