Crusaders feast on Eagles

By Justin Lucas - Sports Writer
Ashton Smith connects with Jack Laslo on a 16-yard pass for a touchdown. - Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent
Albert Thornton drops SouthLake’s Luca Lutzel on a rushing attempt. - Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent
Harrells freshman Connor Spell wraps up SouthLake’s Josh Belvin. - Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent
Isaac Underwood sprints upfield for his 70-yard touchdown run. - - Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent
Jack Laslo leaps over SouthLake defender Luca Lutzel to gain additional yardage on a run attempt. - - Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent

Originally scheduled for Friday evening, the Harrells Crusaders and SouthLake Eagles decided to delay their matchup to Saturday afternoon. With improved, albeit hot, conditions, the game time change didn’t faze the Crusaders, who rolled to another dominating victory with a 49-12 rout over the the visiting Eagles.

With Hurricane Dorian having just passed, the moisture in the air was palpable, coupled with the heat, it was a steamy one at Murphy-Johnson Field. SouthLake won the toss, but deferred to open the second half. Harrells took the opening drive of the game and quickly went three and out, giving the Eagles their first possession.

SouthLake was moving the ball well, driving the ball well into enemy territory, but the drive kind to a screeching halt thanks to a third down pass that was picked off by Harrells’ Camryn Brown Leak.

Starting at their own 20 after the interception, the Crusaders made it all the way to the Eagle 13 when they put the ball in the hands of Jack Laslo, who stiff-armed a defender en route to the end zone to put the Crusaders on the board first. Will DeAndrade, Harells’ very reliable kicker, stayed true to form and knocked through the point after, giving the Crusaders a 7-0 lead.

Looking to answer, the Eagles’ next drive had a promising start. SouthLake’s Cooper Wray bolted up field on a 28-yard rush, sending his team into back into opponent territory. This highlighted their drive, but facing a long fourth down at the Crusader 33-yard line, the Eagles drive stalled, turning it over on downs back to the Harrells offense.

Facing second down at their own 35-yard line, Laslo made the house call and busted through the defense, going 65 yards to the house. With DeAndrade’s PAT, the Crusaders took a 14-0 lead with 1:37 to go in quarter number one.

The first quarter ended with that same score, but SouthLake was once again driving near midfield.

Landing an assist from some penalties, the Eagles got into the red zone for the first time on their first drive of the second quarter. Six yards out and the goal to go, Wray got the call again, punching it in for the Eagles first score. The ensuing two-point conversion did not succeed, but Harrells’ lead had been shaved to 14-6 with 10:57 left in the first half.

Less than half of that would be left on the clock after the Crusaders’ next drive. Methodically making their way down the field, Issac Underwood answered the bell this time for Harrells: cruising into the end zone for his first of two touchdowns. DeAndrade, who was perfect on the day on PATs, split the uprights again as the score sat at 21-6.

Wanting more, the Crusaders were handed a gift with 3:22 left.

In sort of no man’s land and with the score at 21-6, SouthLake pretty much had to go for it on fourth down and medium yards to go. Harrells defense rose up and prevented the conversion, setting their offense up in plus territory.

The 30-yard drive culminated in Crusaders quarterback Aaron Smith taking it in from two yards out, lending way to a 28-6 halftime lead in favor of the home-standing Crusaders.

Much of the same HCA dominance continued into the second half. Just out of the break, Ashton Smith intercepted another Eagles pass. His nearly 45-yard return was negated, however, due to an illegal block in the back, bringing the ball all the way back deep into their own zone.

Underwood, however, again gashed the Eagles defense with a 70-yard touchdown run. DeAndrade’s extra point was true and Harrells had a large 35-6 lead over SouthLake.

It wouldn’t matter, but the Eagles got to the end zone once again before the end of the third quarter. There, Carson Wolter hauled in a 30-yard pass to bring SouthLake back to within 35-12, where the third quarter ended with that score.

It was all for nil, though, as SouthLake’s deficit only grew in the final quarter. Touchdowns from Sam Hope and Albert Thornton provided Harrells with a massive 49-12 advantage, which after a running clock was imposed, became the final of Saturday’s game.

After the game, Harrells head coach Jason Arnette spoke highly of his team, complimenting a total team effort.

“I thought offensively we played well,” Arnette began. “We controlled the clock, we got the ball in multiple peoples hands, and only had to punt one time. Overall a good performance, especially considering the heat,” he concluded.

Offensively, Laslo was once again the shining star for the Crusaders with 149 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also hauled in one pass for 16 yards and another score. Underwood had a strong day as well, compiling 51 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Hope had 56 yards and a touchdown, followed by Smith with 46 yards and a touchdown. Thornton rounded out the leaders with 31 rushing yards and one score.

Following the victory, the Crusaders improved to 3-0 on the season while SouthLake dropped to 2-2. Harrells will face another test this coming Friday when they host Trinity Christian Academy. That game is set for 7 p.m.

Ashton Smith connects with Jack Laslo on a 16-yard pass for a touchdown.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_HCA-Albert-Smith.jpgAshton Smith connects with Jack Laslo on a 16-yard pass for a touchdown. Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent

Albert Thornton drops SouthLake’s Luca Lutzel on a rushing attempt.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_HCA-Albert-Thornton.jpgAlbert Thornton drops SouthLake’s Luca Lutzel on a rushing attempt. Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent

Harrells freshman Connor Spell wraps up SouthLake’s Josh Belvin.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_HCA-Connor-Spell.jpgHarrells freshman Connor Spell wraps up SouthLake’s Josh Belvin. Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent

Isaac Underwood sprints upfield for his 70-yard touchdown run.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_HCA-Isaac-Underwood.jpgIsaac Underwood sprints upfield for his 70-yard touchdown run. Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent

Jack Laslo leaps over SouthLake defender Luca Lutzel to gain additional yardage on a run attempt.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_HCA-Jack-Laslo.jpgJack Laslo leaps over SouthLake defender Luca Lutzel to gain additional yardage on a run attempt. Daron Barefoot | Sampson Independent
Harrells gallops to 49-12 win over SouthLake

By Justin Lucas

Sports Writer

Reach Sports Editor Daron Barefoot at [email protected]

Reach Sports Editor Daron Barefoot at [email protected]