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Published on Aug 20, 2011

Opening game of the 2011 season... Leesville Road 49 - Panther Creek 0

RALEIGH -- A Gatorade bath was needed for this one. Even though new coach Chad Smothers told his players all week not to do it, the Leesville Road Pride felt it was necessary.

After all, how many coaches can say they won their first game 49-0?

That's what Smothers, who had been an assistant at the school for six years, did as the Pride was dominant in every facet at home against the Panther Creek Catamounts Friday night.


"These kids played really well, and this couldn't have gone better for me," said Smothers, his shirt still damp after offensive lineman Thomas Sanders and receiver Jack Woodrow gave him a celebratory soak.

On the second play of the game, receiver Braxton Berrios ran across the field before taking the handoff from his older brother, quarterback Austin Berrios, on a sweep play. Braxton raced to the outside and wasn't touched on an 89-yard touchdown.

Smothers said he was surprised by the success of his offense after he installed a new system in the offseason. The Pride rushed for 441 yards, and many came off misdirection.

"Any holes that are open, we're hitting them hard and we don't stop running," said Braxton, who rushed for 157 yards on just six carries. "It could be any of our three running backs who breaks it."

All three of Leesville's primary runners had big gains. D.J. Hunt started the second half by breaking three tackles for a 39-yard run. Then, Maurice Lauchner began his night with a 59-yard run.

"This was a perfect way start to the season," said Brendan Lough, one of five senior offensive linemen. "We have such experience on the offensive line and we really push them back."

When the Pride (1-0) finally threw the football - which was rare - Austin Berrios completed a pass to receiver Derahjai Robinson in stride on post pattern for an 85-yard touchdown.

"I thought Austin did a good job of moving the offense down the field," Smothers said. "I couldn't have been prouder of his effort."

Panther Creek (0-1) failed to execute deep in Leesville Road territory in the first half. Kicker Garrett Lang missed a 25-yard field goal early, and quarterback Jorden Jensen was intercepted late in the second quarter on a play by Lough.

With the clock ticking down, Jensen was forced to make a throw under pressure. Lough, aware of the situation, tipped the ball into the air before returning his interception 15 yards.

That was the closest Panther Creek came to the end zone.

"I just got my hands up, and I just saw the ball land in my hands," Lough said. "It's a lineman's dream to run with the ball."

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