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Defense paces Hammond to fourth straight title in SCISA AAA Win Over Laurence Manning

Hammond defeats LMA 26-6 To Claim Another SCISA AAA State Title  

By David Shelton

Senior Writer 

North Charleston – Legendary Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once coined the phrase “Offense sells tickets but defense wins championships.” Bryant would be proud of the performance by Hammond School’s defense in the SCISA Class AAA state championship game.

The Skyhawks won their fourth consecutive state championship, and 12th since 2004, with a 26-6 win over Laurence Manning. Leading the effort was a defensive effort that yielded Laurence Manning only 66 yards in total offense in yet another 2020 stifling performance.

“This means a lot,” Hammond coach Erik Kimrey said. “We’re all just thankful to be here and to get a full season in. I’m proud of this group. We had to overcome the loss of 21 seniors that were part of the most talented team in the history of this league.

“It was a different year for sure. There’s a lot more gratitude in this room. This is why we do this. You take a group of young people and go on bit of a journey and learn to struggle.”

Hammond’s “no name” defense came up with the Skyhawks’ only touchdown of the first half as Brig Brannon picked off a pass and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown with 9:28 left in the first quarter.

Laurence Manning put together a 77-yard drive on its next possession, aided by two key Hammond penalties, and scored on Jackson Brown’s two-yard run to cut the lead to 7-6 with 3;21 left in the opening period.

Defenses dominated the second quarter but a key mistake on special teams hurt Laurence Manning. A high punt snap was covered in the end zone by Laurence Manning, resulting in a safety and a 9-6 Hammond lead with 2:41 left in the half.

Hammond managed a field goal off the free kick, a 25-yarder from Dylan Richardson with 24 seconds left, and the Skyhawks led 12-6 at the half.

Hammond opened the third quarter and quickly scored a touchdown on Whit Muschamp’s six-yard pass to Cam Scott with 6:43 left in the third quarter. The score was set up by a 45-yard connection from Muschamp to Scott to the five-yard line. Muschamp finished the game with 120 passing yards. Hammond only managed 222 total yards.

“We fight and we scrap all year long and we lean on that “no name” defense all season,” Kimrey said. “We felt like we could be patient offensively and just control the game, then let the defense do their thing.”

Hammond’s defense was spectacular in the final two quarters, allowing only six net yards in the second half and finishing 66 total yards for the game.

Hammond junior running back CJ Stokes, considered the top underclassman running back in the state, was bottled up for most of the game as Laurence Manning focused on stopping the run game. Stokes managed just 51 yards on his first 23 carries. His 24th tote resulted in a 35-yard score, sealing the Hammond victory with 3:50 left in the game.

“They were putting eight and nine guys in the box and determined to stop our run,” Stokes said. “We just stayed patient and kept pounding it until we could break one.”

The Swampcats finish with a 9-4 record, losing to Hammond twice this season and to the Skyhawks in the title game for the second year in a row.

“I thought we gave everything we had defensively tonight,” Laurence Manning head coach Austin Floyd said. “It would have been easy for those guys to get frustrated with our inability to sustain drives offensively but they went out there and gave it all they had. Really proud of our effort tonight. That’s a good football team over there.”

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