Before the game against Eagle's Landing, Luella head football coach Nick Vasilchek spoke of the football season as the war, and he would be encouraging his Lions to win each battle (game) along the way toward winning the war.
"It would definitely be great (to go into a two-week layoff at 3-0)," said Vasilchek.
After struggling to win the battle for two-plus quarters, his Lions finally took command and won 27-14 in the non-region contest Friday at Eagle's Landing.
Both teams had experienced early-season success after disappointing 2010 campaigns. Luella of Region 2-AAAAA entered the contest 2-0 after a 3-7 season a year ago, and Eagle's Landing of Region 4-AAA had matched their combined win total of 2009 and 2010 with a season-opening victory over Rutland.
But it was the Lions that regained their composure in the third quarter to capture the contest with a ball-control offense, a strong defense, and a little help from Eagle's Landing errors and penalties.
Almost nothing worked for either team in the first half. Luella's only big play of the half came after Trae Brown recovered an Golden Eagles' fumble on the their 27. The big play was a fourth-down Jared Hendricks to Alvin Hill 21-yard pass that set the ball on the Eagle's Landing 10. On a second and goal play, Laquez Freemon bolted across the middle for a 10-yard score.
Eagle's Landing's Keldrick Griffin returned a fumble 67 yards to tie the game at 7-7.
The Golden Eagles took their first lead when Tyler Teknipp scored on an 8-yard touchdown run.
It looked as if Vasilchek's troops were about to lose this battle to the spunky Eagles.
Gabe Smith then donned the mantle of Lion workhorse, and Smith carried Luella past the Eagles. Smith rushed 15 times for 119 yards and a touchdown in the final 22 minutes.
The Lions defense also came alive as they limited Teknipp to just two second-half completions in 14 tries. A Hendricks-to-Brian Williams 32-yard pass tied the game at 14 with 5:34 left in the third.
Luella took the lead for good at 6:58 of the fourth when Hendricks found Reise McDaniel by the left pylon with a 17-yard touchdown strike. Smith completed the 20-0 Luella run with a 9-yard run.