WINNSBORO - Lugoff-Elgin coach Scott Jones had watched his team play three games against teams ranked in the top 10 of Class 3A and come up short each time. In fact, those three losses to Airport, Chester and Chapin came by a combined seven points.
But those fortunes changed Friday night when the Demons used a big first half to knock off Fairfield Central 24-13.
Jones said his team was undaunted by playing its fourth ranked team of the season.
"It was just another game to us, really," Jones said. "This is one of the strongest regions in the state, so this is the type of battle we expect every night. We're getting fully healthy and it was good to finally come out on the positive side of one of these."
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Region 4-3A is in flux going into the final week of the regular season. Fairfield Central (6-3, 3-1) can win the title with a victory next week against Chapin. Chester has one loss. Lugoff-Elgin (6-3, 2-2) and Chapin sitt a game back.
"We knew coming in that it didn't matter what we did this week and I think we didn't mentally prepare the right way," Fairfield Central coach Reggie Kennedy said. "Our goal of winning the region is still right there in front of us, so we have to go back and correct the mistakes and get ready for next week."
Big plays were the order, especially in the first half. The Demons' second possession was a 9-play, 55-yard drive, all on the ground. Forrest Koumas capped the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
Fairfield Central answered with an 80-yard touchdown burst by Joseph Morgan to tie the score 11 seconds later. The Griffins had 113 yards of offense in the first half and didn't record their initial first down until less than two minutes remained in the half. They punted five times and ended two other series by turning it over on downs.
Jones came away impressed by what his team accomplished against a Fairfield Central offense that had played well in recent weeks.
"Our defense played about as good of a game as they had all year," Jones said. "Fairfield Central had been running it all over people the last few weeks, so our coaches did a good job of coming up with a scheme to slow them down."
Kennedy said that was the difference.
"We didn't do a good job up front," he said. "We came in and wanted to run the ball but we never got anything going on a consistent basis."
Lugoff-Elgin closed the opening quarter with a 27-yard field goal by Grayson Quick. That score was set up by a 54-yard run by Julian Baxter.
Koumas took to the air for the next two big plays. First he found Davonte Alexander behind the Fairfield Central defense for a 67-yard scoring pass. Alexander stretched out and caught the ball with his fingertips but managed to keep his feet to run the final 40 yards.
The Demons then forced a punt from the Griffins 6-yard line that E.J. Ruiz returned to the 32-yard line. On the next play, Koumas hit Baxter on a screen in the flat and he made two defenders miss before scoring.
"We seem to hit a big one every week here recently," Jones said. "That is the third straight week Davonte has gotten free and scored on a long one. When that happens, it gives you a lift on offense."
It was a stalemate for most of the second half. The biggest break came when the Demons fumbled the snap on a punt and gave the Griffins the ball on the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Danny Miller snuck it in from a yard out.
L-E 10 14 0 0 - 24
FC 7 0 0 6 - 13
L-E - Forrest Koumas 1 run (Grayson Quick kick) 4:45
FC - Joseph Morgan 80 run (NaJahwan McKinstry kick) 4:34
L-E - Quick 27 FG :22
L-E - Davonte Alexander 67 pass from Forrest Koumas (Quick kick) 10:57
L-E - Julian Baxter 32 pass from Koumas (Quick kick) 2:17
FC- Danny Miller 1 run (run failed) 11:24
First Downs 10 6
Rushes-yds 43-217 35-127
Passing yds 102 106
Comp-Att-Int 4-11-2 13-25-0
Punts 6-40 7-40.6
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties 6-37 7-62
Rushing - L-E: Forrest Koumas 8-22, Julian Baxter 12-124, E.J. Ruiz 15-43, Davonte Alexander 2-0,Stephen Bonaparte 2-8, Brandon Frick 4-20. FC: Joseph Morgan 8-100, Greg Gadsden 15-54, Danny Miller 8-(-41), NaJahwan McKinstry 1-5, Dwight Curlee 2-1, Michael Irby 1-8.
Passing - L-E: F. Koumas 4-11-2-102. FC: D. Miller 13-25-0-106
Receiving - L-E: J. Baxter 2-34, D. Alexander 2-68. FC: Christopher Alston 4-32, Greg Boyd 2-32, Shaquille Young 2-15, N. McKinstry 2-11, Paul Holmes 2-9, G. Gadsden 1-7.