ALBANY — After a stunning upset of Amite in District 7-3A last week, the Jewel Sumner Cowboys weren’t about to let their strong district start get ambushed yet again by the Albany Hornets.
The Cowboys took care of business Friday night, breaking open a one-point game behind 22 unanswered points to roll up a 35-12 victory over the Hornets.
Running back Kijuan Lee led a 331-yard ground game for the Cowboys (3-4, 2-0) with 17 carries for 178 yards and four touchdowns, and Joejoe Simmons added eight carries for 90 yards and one TD, plus a key 69-yard kickoff return as the Cowboys toppled the Hornets (5-2, 0-1) to maintain their share of the top spot in 7-3A.
“The last year we came here, they upset us, and we had that on our mind,” Lee said. “We just wanted to come out and get to 2-0 in district. There’s a lot left to play, but I believe in our team.”
Albany running back Cheyenne Labruzza had 15 carries for 121 yards, and Hornets quarterback Skylier Lehmann tried to rally his team by going 14-for-23 for 165 yards passing with one touchdown. But the Cowboys got three touchdown plays covering 46 yards or more and sacked Lehmann five times to maintain control.
“Especially after we had a big win last week against Amite, we talked about not having letdown game,” Cowboys coach Ross Currier said. “Two years ago we were 7-0, came over here and got beat on this very same field. It wasn’t pretty (tonight). We still have a lot of stuff to correct; we turned the ball over a lot. But we came here and got the ‘W’. That’s the most important thing.”
Sumner built a 21-12 halftime lead, then broke it open on its first two touches of the second half. The Cowboys took the second-half kickoff and went 72 yards in five plays, the last when Lee broke a dive play and turned it into a 46-yard touchdown run that made it 28-12 with 9:58 left in the third period.
Lee then halted a Hornets’ drive that had reached the Cowboys’ 19 when he recovered a fumble on a completed pass to Kamryn Mayers inside the Sumner 10 and returned it to 38. Sumner then drove 62 yards in 13 plays, scoring on Lee’s 5-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 35-12.
Defense did the rest for the Cowboys, who halted two more Albany drives into Sumner territory to maintain the 23-point margin.
“Hat’s off to their guys,” Albany coach Blane Westmoreland said. “Very physical football game. I’m proud of our guys and what we were able to do. But hey, they contained our big play and we were unable to contain their big play. They had two one-play scoring drives.
“You never want to lose a ballgame, but we control our destiny,” Westmoreland added. “I feel confident in what we’ve got going on, and we control our destiny. We control whether we’re going to play in Week 11 or not.”
Sumner took a 7-0 lead on Lee’s 53-yard touchdown run with 36 seconds left in the first period, then things heated up in the second quarter with the two teams combining for four touchdowns in a span of just over five minutes.
Albany got on the board after Anfrenee Matthews covered a Sumner fumble at the Cowboys’ 29, setting up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lehmann to Connor Turner. The run for two failed, leaving Sumner ahead 7-6, and the Cowboys padded that seconds later when Simmons’ 69-yard kickoff return set up Lee’s 5-yard touchdown sweep that made it 13-6 after a missed PAT kick.
Albany needed just three plays to get that score back as Labruzza broke a 54-yarder to set up his own 15-yard touchdown sweep, but the Hornets’ pass for two failed to leave the Cowboys on top 13-12.
Just 15 seconds later, Sumner had padded its lead when Simmons swept left and exploded down the left sideline for a 52-yard touchdown run. Cowboys quarterback Charles Robertson kept on the PAT to make it 21-12 at halftime.