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Second round blues again for Lovejoy - Jeffery Armstrong

And then there were none.

Five Southern Crescent high school teams qualified for the state playoffs and with Lovejoy High's 44-26 loss Friday night to the Houston County Bears, all five have now bowed out.

The Lovejoy Wildcats, the Region 4-AAAAA champs, were the only team to make it out of the first round and I just had a feeling they would finally advance past the second round for the first time ever.

The feeling grew more intense as the game started and Lovejoy took a quick lead when Wildcats quarterback Ryan Williamson scored from one-yard out. This is a good sign, i thought, as Lovejoy was able to score first.

Then came the extra point, which was missed by extremely accurate kicker Matias Ferreira, keeping the score at 6-0, Lovejoy.

Uh-oh.

The Wildcats then managed to give up three straight rushing touchdowns to Houston County's Brandon King in the first half and just like that, Houston County was up 21-6 with 2:30 left before halftime.

Lovejoy managed to get some momentum back as Williamson threw a 35-yard TD pass to receiver Darius Thomas, who broke four tackles en route to the end zone. The score was 21-13 at the half and if Lovejoy could stop them in the third quarter, i figured the Wildcats would be able to pull out the victory.

What i didn't figure was Lovejoy allowing another 21-point outburst to break the game open at 42-13 with six minutes left in the third quarter.

Lovejoy fans started filing for the exits and even the two rowdy Lovejoy fans who were trying to get the Wildcat crowd to cheer didn't have much else to say.

This is the second time in three years i've had to witness Lovejoy losing a second round playoff game (am i a jinx?) and it's been no fun. After the game ended, i glanced at some of the Lovejoy seniors who obviously took this game hard.

Massive offensive lineman Chris Scott just stood on the field, hands on hips, staring in disbelief. The senior I saw who was the most emotional was linebacker/punter David McHone, who stood on one knee, sobbing. He was crushed, but he mustered enough strength to talk to me.

"We started out sluggishly, but we picked it up. There just wasn't enough time on the clock," McHone said through tears. "We just were lackadaisical in the first and third quarters and it cost us. This really hurts."

To his credit, Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes wasn't happy just to have made it farther than any area team in this year's playoffs.

"We're not satisfied and we're not happy with that," he said. "We'll go into the offseason and work hard to be back next year."

Knowing coach Hughes like i do, i don't doubt that one bit.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily.