A three-touchdown night for senior Danny Stutsman led the Lions to a big win on Friday night.
On a hot, steamy night on the campus of Foundation Academy, the Lions football team did something that — just a few weeks ago — they weren't even sure they'd be able to do: Play football.
Not only did the Lions (1-0) play football, but they dominated just about every second in their 41-0 win over Orangewood (0-1) in front of a large crowd — which was almost entirely masked up — Friday, Sept. 4.
The blowout against a strong Orangewood team came as somewhat of a surprise to Lions head coach Brad Lord, but there was only one thing that he had on his mind the whole night.
“(The) kids played,” Lord said. “We can always get better on both sides of the ball, but the kids played — that’s what it’s about. They’ve been Yo-Yoed up and down… (but) they played tonight.”
Before the start of the night’s game, Foundation went ahead and celebrated its senior football, cheer and athletic staff members with a senior night ceremony. The idea had been discussed ahead of the season’s start, so that the school could honor its seniors in case the season was shut down early by the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the celebration the Lions got to work on the field in an opening quarter that saw both teams try and shake off the rust in what normally would be Week 3 of the season.
About halfway through the quarter — after taking over at the Rams’ 27-yard line thanks to a botched/shanked kick — the Lions found their way into the end zone for the first time on a short run by Danny Stutsman on a direct snap at the 5:09 mark. The proceeding extra point was good — giving the Lions the 7-0 lead.
Stutsman, an Oklahoma commit, would follow up his touchdown run with another in the second quarter to make it 14-0. Stutsman would go on to finish the night with three-total touchdowns — including two-rushing, and a 98-yard pick-six in the second quarter that saw the senior blaze past the entire Orangewood team with just under eight minutes to go in the opening half. On the following extra point — following the long pick-six — kicker Ian Garcia picked up a loose ball that was fumbled after the snap, before running right and hitting Greyson Labiad for an impromptu two-point conversion to push the Lions lead to 22-0.
After making a big play on special teams, Labiad would turn around and recover an Orangewood fumble, which would then lead to an 11-yard touchdown run by Travis Hutchinson to help put the Lions up 29-0 at the half. Hutchinson finished the night with 78-rushing yards on nine carries.
While the offense exploded for 22 points in the second quarter — and would go on to put up 41 points in the game — the Lions defense completely shutout Orangewood all night, and didn’t allow a first down until the second quarter. Junior Bryan Thomas wreaked havoc in the Rams’ backfield with nine total tackles, two tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and a sack, while Brady Lord and Bowman Bower grabbed six total tackles apiece.
“Our defensive line, I’d put (them) up against anyone in the state,” Lord said
The Lions’ biggest threat on the night wasn’t so much the Rams as it was the mass cramping and a few injuries — which plagued both teams throughout the game. Stutsman left the game early in the third quarter with severe cramping and was eventually taken to the hospital for intravenous therapy, while standout lineman Hunter Moss was taken out for an undisclosed injury in the first half.
“We usually have three weeks to prep,” Lord said. “The cramp mess? I knew it was going to happen. I mean we pumped stuff into them — water to rehydrate them. We’ve got some work to do, but the kids came out in a week-and-a-half and got prepped for a Friday night game… to be honest with you, we were only in pads for two days.”
The Lions would go on to see scores by Eric Osborne — whose 14-yard reception from quarterback Tate Ewing would induce a running clock. Ewing would finish the night going 11-for-19 for 179 yards and one touchdown, while carrying the ball five times for 26 yards. Thomas would score on a 5-yard run with less than three minutes to go to seal up the 41-0 win.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Lord said. “We have to clean some stuff up before we go to Mount Dora next week, but in this pandemic it’s one day at a time.”