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By JON LEFFEW
Midway began the 2011 season Friday night on the road, and going in, Green Wave fans had many questions.
For instance, how would head coach Joe Campbell handle his first year at the helm of his alma mater?
Next, how would a team laden with freshman respond to the rigors of the high school season?
After eventually making it down close to the Georgia line Friday night, the Green Wave got answers to those questions in a hard-fought 42-6 defeat at the hands of the Yellow Jackets.
The long bus ride obviously brought out Coach Campbell’s gambling spirit, as the Green Wave opened the game with an onside kick. Thomas Viar’s kickoff eventually ended up in the hands of freshman Zach Hearon, and the Green Wave set up shop at the Lookout Valley 40-yard line.
However, the drive stalled after an incompletion on 4th down.
Lookout Valley wasted no time in taking control, as Jamal Jones raced 62 yards for a touchdown on the Yellow Jackets’ first offensive play of the contest.
After the two-point conversion, LVHS led 8-0 with 9:51 on the first quarter clock.
On the following drive, Midway actually had a couple of good runs, but a fumble thwarted any scoring chance for the Green Wave.
The Midway defense then forced a punt, but the following Midway possession ended abruptly as Viar’s pass was intercepted off the hands of a Green Wave receiver.
The Yellow Jackets then quickly capitalized again, scoring in one play again to make the score 14-0.
The Green Wave managed a first down on the next drive, but eventually were forced to punt.
LVHS then tacked on another score with just less than a minute remaining. When the dust had settled on the first quarter, Midway was down, 20-0.
The second quarter opened up with yet another Yellow Jacket touchdown, and, despite a Chattanooga sunset draped beautifully over the field, things appeared gloomy for Midway.
However, Viar and Jacob Miller took turns moving the ball down the field for the Green Wave on the next possession and with 7:49 on the second quarter clock, Midway struck paydirt.
On 4th-and-15 from the Lookout Valley 21, Viar’s pass to Christian Moore ended up being a wonderfully executed tip drill, as Moore batted the ball to Shandon Lyle in the end zone for the touchdown.
After the failed extra point attempt, Lookout Valley led 28-6.
Momentum appeared to be shifting at this point, as Midway forced a punt on the next LVHS possession and forced a fumble on a carry by the Yellow Jacket quarterback.
Unfortunately, two interceptions and another long touchdown run led to a 36-6 halftime score.
Midway opened the second half with two first downs and a long drive in which Viar hit Lyle and Brock Dishner with long passes. But a turnover on downs ended the scoring chance.
After this, Midway forced a punt and then failed to convert another scoring opportunity.
Thanks to three rushes for 19 yards on the drive, the Green Wave found themselves facing a 3rd and goal from the Yellow Jacket two. Then, despite being given a phantom fifth down, the visitors simply could not convert. As time ran out on the third quarter clock, Midway trailed, 36-6.
Lookout Valley added the game’s final touchdown early in the fourth to make the score 42-6.
The Green Wave did drive the ball throughout the rest of the game, as Viar hooked up with Lyle on three different occasions in the fourth.
All in all, the Green Wave struggled all night to deal with their opponents, who were oozing with athleticism. The Yellow Jackets finished the evening with 398 total yards, 121 of which came from Jamal Jones.
For Midway, despite the lopsided loss, there were several positives. Viar threw the ball well and ended up with 145 yards passing and a touchdown.
Also, Moore finished with more than 130 return yards on five different kickoff returns.
Finally, several rookies gained valuable experience and put up good numbers. Freshmen Cody Schommer and Dylan Clark made several plays defensively, while Zach Hearon and Jason Gaus rushed for a combined 62 yards on only eight carries.
The Green Wave will look to get on the right track next week, as they host Whitwell on Friday.