LEBANON – A pair of first half big plays lifted Stewarts Creek to a 17-7 win over Lebanon Friday at Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium.
With the victory, the Red Hawks improved to 7-1 on the season heading into a Friday, Oct. 25 home game against Region 5-6A rival Nashville Overton.
On the third offensive snap of the game, talented tailback Amari Jelks electrified the crowd with a nifty cutback move that resulted in a 60-yard scoring run, putting Stewarts Creek ahead 7-0 with 10:37 remaining in the first quarter.
With 3:10 remaining before intermission, lanky receiver Jaylen Moore out-jumped a Lebanon defender on a 50-50 ball on the Stewarts Creek boundary and sprinted to the house for a 90-yard scoring play as Stewarts Creek took a 14-0 lead into the half.
The only Red Hawk points of the second half came on a 22-yard chip shot field goal by Upton Bellenfant at the 6:15 mark of the third quarter.
Lebanon took the ensuing kickoff and mixed in equal parts of run and pass to mount a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard scoring run by Dequantay Shannon.
“This was a good, hard-hitting game,” said Stewarts Creek head coach Bert Browne. “We needed to play a physical team because we haven't in a while. It was good for us to play against an opponent that would get after you.
“I told our kids Lebanon is the best defense we've played against. We had to 'big play' to beat 'em. That bothers me a bit because we've got to do a better job of sustaining drives – usually we do that.”
Jelks paced the offensive attack with 160 yards on 16 carries and the early TD run. He also caught three passes from Alex Krenk for 29 yards.
The speedy senior added a 43-yard kickoff return to give him 221 yards all-purpose yards.
“He's tough because he's so quick,” Browne said about Jelks. “The thing about him, you can't see him back there. Then he hits a hole and sticks his foot in the ground and he's full speed.”
Krenk completed 8-of-14 passing attempts for 175 yards with the big strike coming on the long second quarter catch and run by Moore.
The Red Hawks forced a pair of Lebanon turnovers – a fumble recovered in the first half by Carson Smith and a fourth quarter interception by Keo Polk.
Surprisingly, the Blue Devils cam out throwing as senior Breeze Copas completed 16-of-41 attempts, far and away the most prolific passing effort of his career, for 150 yards.
He was victimized by at least two drops, and a couple of combat throws that were defended by the Red Hawks secondary.
Outside receiver Dalton Woods caught six balls for 70 yards, tight end Will Seats grabbed five passes for 46 yards, slot Levi Sampson had three catches for 17 and Polo Phillips hauled in a 35-yarder in the first half.
Lebanon managed 334 yards in total offense and 21 first downs.
“Stewarts Creek made those big plays in the first half,” said LHS head coach Chuck Gentry. “We had some opportunities and didn't cash in. They got 15 of their 17 points off those two plays and we got down there twice and couldn't score.”
Lebanon's Shannon ran for 116 yards on 27 carries and a score, going over the 2,000-mark for his career.
Now 4-4 on the season, the Blue Devils return to Region 4-6A competition Oct. 26 playing at cross-county rival Wilson Central.