By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Waynesville coach Joe Haynes described the team’s defense as “phenomenal” through the first three games.
But as play caller, he knew the offense could do better.
So, he reportedly issued a challenge in practice this week.
“All week in practice, coach was saying, ‘If we don’t have 300 yards on the ground (Friday), we got a problem,” said Tigers running back Shen Butler-Lawson.
The Tigers had no problems running the ball against an injury-depleted Hillcrest team on Friday night, tallying over 400 yards on the ground in a 53-13 victory.
“Our goal, truly, was to dominate in the run game because we’ve yet to do that this season,” Haynes said. “We wanted to establish that tonight. It was nice to see us in sync.”
Butler-Lawson led the way with a monster performance: 252 yards and four touchdowns on just 12 carries.
“He had a breakout game,” Haynes said. “The idea, each week, is to feed him the rock because he’s a guy who makes play.”
Butler-Lawson did most of his damage in the first half. He had 205 yards and three touchdowns to help Waynesville build a 40-6 halftime lead.
“The offensive line made it work,” Butler-Lawson said. “They were hitting the sleds all week and got the job done tonight.”
Waynesville capitalized on three Hillcrest turnovers in the first half.
Tigers sophomore Erick Richardson recorded a defensive touchdown on Hillcrest’s second possession. After senior Josh Ash blew up a jet sweep in the backfield, Richardson recovered the ensuing fumble for a touchdown that put Waynesville ahead, 14-0.
“We practiced all week that if he goes on a jet sweep, it’s a handoff 98 percent of the time,” Richardson said. “I knew he was coming. When he fumbled it, I was thinking like, ‘Pick it up and run. Pick it up and run.’”
Richardson had a bit of an adventure trying to recover that fumble. He finally got the scoop and score after a couple of mishandles.
“It kept bouncing toward the endzone,” said Richardson, who also had a rushing touchdown in the second half. “I thought it was going to keep rolling. It finally bounced back to me, I got it and it was a touchdown.
“I wanted the touchdown. It was too close to the endzone (to fall on it).”
Butler-Lawson helped Waynesville put away Hillcrest with a dominating second quarter.
On a 42-yard touchdown run, he eluded at least half the Hillcrest defense with a sequence of moves that included a spin move, a juke and pure speed.
Not bad for making something out of nothing.
“I really ran the wrong play, but it worked out,” Butler-Lawson said. “I went back – I had a cut-back – and I saw a defender coming and my guy blocked him. He grabbed me, but I spun off. Then another guy came across my face, I juked him. After that, I was gone. Touchdown.”
Butler-Lawson also led a 2-play, 80-yard drive on Waynesville’s next possession with back-to-back carries of 69 and 11 yards.
On the other side, Waynesville’s defense finished with three sacks and forced three turnovers.
“That’s four weeks in a row our defense has done everything,” Haynes said. “From the jamboree on, they’ve been phenomenal. That is the best part of our team right now.”
Waynesville (2-2 overall) hosts Central for homecoming next Friday. Hillcrest (0-4 overall) plays at Camdenton.
Waynesville 53, Hillcrest 13
Waynesville 21 19 7 6 – 53
Hillcrest 0 6 0 7 – 13
Waynesville – Martin 12 catch from Lewis (Choi kick)
Waynesville – Richardson 5 fumble return (Choi kick)
Waynesville – Butler-Lawson 18 run (Choi kick)
Waynesville – Butler-Lawson 42 run (Choi kick)
Waynesville – Fiame 19 catch from Beam (kick failed)
Hillcrest – Floyd 68 run (kick failed)
Waynesville – Butler-Lawson 11 run (pass failed)
Waynesville – Butler-Lawson 7 run (kick failed)
Hillcrest – Anderson 20 catch from Floyd (PAT good)
Waynesville – Richardson 25 run (pass failed)
Unofficial stat leaders
Passing: Beam 3-for-5 for 69 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Butler-Lawson 12 carries for 252 yards, 4 TDs; Richardson 6 carries for 58 yards, 1 TD; Bradford 7 carries for 52 yards;
Receiving: Fiame 1 catch for 27 yards, 1 TD; Martin 1 catch for 16 yards, 1 TD; Butler-Lawson 1 catch for 34 yards
Passing: Floyd 4-for-8 for 147 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Floyd 8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD; Hurd 19 carries for 57 yards
Receiving: Stoker 1 catch for 39 yards; Anderson 1 catch for 20 yards, 1 TD; Ahearn 1 catch for 35 yards
Turnovers: Hillcrest 3, Waynesville 1