Golden Tornadoes starters Luke Hunt, Charlton Townsend, Naim Bellamy and Silas Oxendine were all ejected after time had expired for throwing punches in a melee at the 50-yard line on the final play of their 28-20 loss to visiting Lake View, S.C., on Friday evening at Hal S. Floyd Stadium.
The ejections, which marred a near-late game comeback by Fairmont, will result in the quartet missing next week’s home game against Wilmington Ashley. Atkinson was disgusted with the entire scene, muttering the words “they deserved it” to the officials as he walked off the field toward the locker room.
“We take two steps forward, and then we take five back,” Atkinson said. “That’s kind of where we are right now. Over the last two weeks, we’ve been really sloppy. We’re not where we need to be. We’re searching for ourselves right now.”
The post-game ejection spoiled an otherwise good game for Townsend who finished the night with a game-best 13 tackles, as well as 1-1/2 tackles for loss and a momentum-changing sack in the opening period. He added a forced and recovered a fumble to the stat-sheet. Meanwhile, Hunt made three catches for 26 yards, while also pulling his team within striking distance on a 4-yard scoring plunge with less than four minutes left to play.
Lake View (2-1) mustered just 211 yards of offense, but did not need any more after holding Fairmont (2-2) to just 189 offensive yards, including a measly 25 yards of offense for the hosts in the first half. Nearly half — four — of Fairmont’s nine possessions on the night resulted in negative yards, while its opening drive of the second quarter resulted in just 18 yards. Lake View tallied 11 possessions on the night, with an average start at their own 47-yard line.
Darius Leonard was the do-everything threat for the Wild Gators as the 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior registered seven tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage, while also pulling down an interception. Leonard also carried the ball nine times for 45 yards and a second-quarter score, while also returning three punts for 112 yards for an average of 37.3 yards a return. Kendrix Worley carried the ball 15 times for 73 yards and a touchdown as well.
Lake View looked methodical in driving 59 yards on seven plays on the game’s opening possession, and took a quick 7-0 lead just three minutes in on a 4-yard run by Worley. Zack Caudel electrified the home crowd with a 57-yard punt return for a score with minutes left in the first quarter that would inevitably carry Fairmont to its only lead of the contest, 8-7, heading into the second period. Leonard’s 3-yard touchdown run 17 seconds into the following period, however, would give the Wild Gators the lead for good.
Worley coughed up the football at midfield on a designed time-draining play call with less than 70 seconds left, but Fairmont could do nothing with it. A first-down pass by Jarrod Neal fell incomplete and the Golden Tornadoes did themselves in moments later when they were called for both an illegal procedure penalty, as well as a dead ball personal foul for a late hit.