Cougars starts fresh but sloppy

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 27, 2004

MARION – Last year, around this same time, Erik Montz and the Southern Academy Cougars had their way with Marion Military Institute. By the third quarter of the 2003 game, Southern had put up a 70-spot.

This year, things were a bit different. MMI held the Cougars scoreless in the first half – kind of.

Southern Academy scored 30 points in the first 24 minutes of play, but they couldn’t convert a point-after conversion. And they had five chances, the first of which came after the first play of the game.

Montz, a heralded senior running back who was clocked at a 4.5-40 during summer camps, picked up the first kick-off of the 2004 season and dashed through the middle of the Tiger defense. With 11:42 left in the first quarter, Montz completed his 85-yard sprint to the endzone and a 70-point performance seemed certain.

Instead of a wiry, soccer-style kicker coming on to add the PAT, the Cougars sent defensive end Andrew Wheeler in to convert the extra point – which he missed left.

An MMI fumble on their first possession gave Southern ideal field position, and facing a second-and-13, Cougar quarterback Thomas Langham connected with Nathan Bonds to pick up a first down. A few plays later, Andrew Hoggle scored to give Southern its second score and its second PAT opportunity.

This time, Southern attempted a two-point conversion, and again it failed.

MMI put together a string of first downs toward the end of the quarter, but facing a third-and-seven with 5:08 on the clock, Southern head coach Shaun Bonds called a blitz that caught the Tigers off guard.

Southern got the ball back and with 1:51 left in the first, Montz scored the second of his three touchdowns from 28 yards away.

Again, the PAT failed.

Leading 18-0, Southern put two more touchdowns on the board in the second quarter. After a Samuel Justice interception, Hoggle scored from 22 yards out.

A bad snap led to another failed PAT attempt.

With 6:51 left in the first half, Montz picked off another MMI pass at the MMI 33 yard line. Three plays later, second-string quarterback Wallace Drury called his own number and scored from 38 yards out to give the Cougars another PAT chance.

This time, Southern called a time-out before the kick, but the organization didn’t help a bad snap that led to another missed chance.

With the game out of reach in the second half, Southern added 17 more points – and the kicking game came alive.

Montz added a touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter, and this time Drury kicked the Cougars’ first PAT.

After a Hoggle 33-yard touchdown run, Wheeler booted home Southern’s second PAT of the night. And to cap off the 47-0 win, Wheeler converted on a 37-yard field goal.

Against MMI, the extra points were trivial. As Southern heads into tougher games, they may become crucial.

Montz led the Cougars with 108 yards rushing, while Hoggle picked up 106 yards on the ground.

Wes Henry led Southern with seven unassisted tackles, two assists and one sack, and he also picked up one fumble. Nathan Bonds was in on 11 tackles Thursday night.

The Cougars face Sumter Academy next, and MMI travels to Montevallo to face Shelby County.