High School Sports

East Central smothers Lanier to earn another playoff game in Hurley

The East Central football team breezed through the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, thumping Lanier 63-13 Friday night at Shirley Field.

East Central will host West Lauderdale, which beat Sumrall 54-19 Friday, in the second round of the postseason.

"Overall, I'm pleased with the effort," East Central coach Seth Smith said. "I thought the kids played really hard, won the turnover battle. As long as you play hard, block good and tackle well, you've got a chance to be successful."

The winner of West Lauderdale-East Central will play the winner of Greene County-South Pike in the third round.

East Central moved to 10-0 for the first since Dodd Lee, Seth Smith's father-in-law, was coaching the Hornets in 1993.

East Central senior running back Tony Brown scored four touchdowns Friday, all in the first half, to push his total to 15 over the last three games. What makes his numbers all the more impressive is the fact that he has sat out the second half in each of the last three games.

He ran only 10 times for 146 yards.

"Every week it's the O-line that helps me out a lot," Brown said. "It's me figuring out where to go and breaking out every week."

The East Central defense smothered Lanier early in the game, limiting the Bulldogs to just three first downs in the first half.

Senior safety Andrew Seward helped lead the East Central attack on defense, recovering a fumble and returning it 5 yards for a touchdown to give the Hornets a 28-0 lead at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter. He also picked off a pass in the second quarter.

"I'm not even sure who did force the fumble," Seward said. "I saw it come out of his hands and I wasn't just going to let it roll there. I picked it up and it was about a 5-yard run."

East Central showed off the passing game more than usual Friday night. Smith called three consecutive pass plays to begin the game, finishing off with a 20-yard touchdown toss from Rylee Brown to Brad Cumbest to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead at the 9:01 mark of the first quarter.

Cumbest finished with three catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

"We were practicing it all week," Brown said of the early pass plays. "We just had confidence in Brad. We knew he'd catch it. That's Brad."

It was smooth sailing from there on out for the Hornets as Brown scored his four touchdowns on runs of 43, 10, 16 and 18 yards.

Louis Morgan also got in the end zone on a 1-yard run in the second quarter as East Central led 49-0 at halftime.

East Central went almost entirely with substitutes in the second half as sophomore Dylan Grinsteinner had touchdown runs of 9 and 26 yards.

Lanier didn't get on the scoreboard until Ladarius Mayes-Peals threw a 40-yard touchdown to Cornelius Scott with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

Lanier's season comes to a close with a record of 4-8.

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