No. 1-ranked Charleston’s normally potent offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders in Friday’s battle against No. 8 Lamar.
But the Tigers’ "Landsharks" defense picked up the slack and took control of the 3A-4 title race. The Tigers’ defense scored two touchdowns on interception returns and set up another TD with a fumble recovery as Charleston (7-0, 4-0) defeated Lamar 31-6 in a battle of unbeatens.
"We didn’t play very well offensively, and I have to give Lamar credit for the things they were doing to confuse us," Charleston coach Greg Kendrick said. "We missed some keys, dropped some balls and just weren’t moving the ball consistently.
"But hats off to our defense for a great game. They played great against a good offensive team."
Taylor King picked off a Lamar (6-1, 3-1) pass and returned it for a 30-yard score with 8:11 in the first quarter for Charleston’s first points that put the Tigers up 7-6.
Minutes later Wade Gerlick pounced on a fumble to put Charleston on a short field. Austin Pittman ran in a 5-yard touchdown run that put Charleston up 14-6.
Charleston broke the game open on a 69-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Newhart from Ty Storey in the second quarter to go up 24-6.
That was a rare offensive highlight for Charleston. Storey was 18-of-35 for 248 yards but had three interceptions. Storey was also sacked four times by the Lamar defense.
"It wasn’t Ty’s best game and he’d tell you that," Kendrick said. "But it is a credit to the kids that they won the game anyway. An ugly win is always better than a pretty loss. This was a conference championship game and were able to get a win."
The Tigers salted the game away with 7:58 left when J.J. Johnson picked off another Lamar pass and ran in for a 24-yard score.
Lamar scored on a 54-yard touchdown bomb early to take a 6-0 lead and had two chances in the Charleston red zone but didn’t come up with points.
"We made the turnovers and we had a couple of chances to score that we couldn’t take advantage of," Lamar coach Josh Jones said. "You can’t have those mistakes and beat a team as good as Charleston. All in all, I am very proud of the way our defense played, we just couldn’t get much going against their defense.
"But I think we got a lot to build on and this game was a lot closer than you might think just looking at the score."
SUMMARY — Charleston’s defense scored twice and set up another score as the Tigers took control of the 3A-4 race.
TURNING POINT — Hayden Newhart’s 69-yard touchdown pass from Ty Storey in the second quarter gave the Tigers a 24-6 lead at the half.
STAT — Charleston’s defense scored twice and only gave up one score of their own.
High School Football
Charleston 31, Lamar 6
Charleston 17 7 0 7 — 31
Lamar 6 0 0 0 — 6
Lam — Kern 54 pass from Sampley (kick missed), 10:36.
Cha — King 30 interception return (Taggert kick), 8:11.
Cha — Pittman 5 run (Taggart kick), 6:05.
Cha — FG Taggart 26, 21.2.
Cha — Newhart 69 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 4:50.
Cha — Johnson 24 interception return (Taggart kick), 7:58.
First Downs 15 12
Rushes-Yards 23-62 23-35
Passing Yards 248 189
Comp-Att-Int 18-35-3 11-33-3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
RUSHING — Charleston, Pittman 10-53, Shelby 1-4, King 1-3, Storey 11-2. Lamar, Sanders 11-43, Jones 4-1, Sampley 8-(-9).
PASSING — Charleston, Storey 18-35-3. Lamar, Sampley 11-33-3.
RECEIVING — Charleston, Pittman 6-85, Newhart 3-83, Shelby 6-56, King 3-24. Lamar, Chenault 4-71, Kern 1-54, Jones 3-34, Campbell 3-30.