High school football on Monday night started out how you might expect - slow and sloppy. The first score "Between the Bricks" didn't come till the second quarter; it was on an intentional grounding call from officials in the end zone to give Laurel a two-point safety.
Laurel followed up with a crazy play in the red zone one minute and thirty-five seconds later to add six. Tornado senior Amir Smith fumbled the pigskin near the goal line. Teammate Xavier Evans retrieved it, and on a tackle that Brookhaven thought was complete, the senior quarterback rolled on top of defenders and back his feet to finish his scoop with a score.
Head coach Todd Breland said he had already given up on the play himself.
"I had already called for the field goal unit," said Breland with a grin. "I quickly changed it to one. I didn't see the end of it. I had already turned around and hollered field goal.
"But that's the type of player Evans is. With his strong lower body, he can make things happen."
After Brookhaven answered, Laurel added seven more in the second quarter and 14 in the second half to defeat Ole Brook 29-6 Monday night.
Laurel improves to 5-1 overall, and 2-0 in Region 3-5A.
"Of course, when you take teenagers out of a routine, you can expect things to happen [as they did]," Breland said. "The bottom line is we focus on one day every week. Whatever day our feet are on the ground, that's the day we're focused on. Tonight was just about getting a win."
Laurel turned the ball over on its opening drive, then punted on its following two possessions before Brookhaven's mishap led to a two-point safety for Laurel. The Tornadoes fumbled again early in the second half. But each time Laurel's defense came through with stops.
"I don't like it," said Breland when asked about the turnovers. "We put the ball on the ground a couple of times, which we haven't done much this year. We have got to do a better job of ball security. But we'll work on that. It is what it is."
How did Breland keep his team focused for a Monday night showdown?
"I don't know," said Breland when asked. "I've never had to do this before. We just played it by ear. We brought the guys in yesterday for a quick walk-through. We hadn't practiced heavily since last Wednesday. But I'm proud of the kids. They made plays when we had to make them.
"We have a plan for the rest of the week, while we face the short turnaround."
Player of the Game:
Counting his scoop and score on offense in the second quarter, Xavier Evans added one more rushing touchdown and two through the air - a 45-yard strike to wide-receiver Kanarius Johnson in the second quarter and a 14-yard pass to running back Kiron Benjamin in the fourth.
Laurel travels to Natchez in four days to continue Region 3-5A action. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday night.