Hammond left defenseless in 41-0 loss Southern-AA rolls in season opener

September 05, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Hammond football coach Joe Russo's Golden Bears allowed 88 points last season, and he was banking on a nearly intact defense to carry the team this season. After yesterday, he had better re-evaluate.

The Bears were beaten, 41-0, by the visiting Southern-AA Bulldogs in the opener for both teams, and Hammond's defense failed to force Southern to punt.

"This is embarrassing," Russo said. "We have our whole defense back except for two players. We were sure we would beat Southern after watching them scrimmage Annapolis."

Every time Southern needed a big third- or fourth-down play, it converted. The Bulldogs used their superior speed and first-half execution to repeatedly sting the Bears for long touchdowns. It was 27-0 at halftime.

"I was pleased with how well we executed for the first game," Southern coach Buck Gardner said. "We tried to run outside to take advantage of our speed. We have some game-breaker-type players."

Chief among them was senior running back and defensive back Jamar Mullen, who broke loose for big-play touchdowns offensively and defensively.

Mullen scored Southern's first touchdown on a 34-yard pass play that capped a 66-yard opening drive. It was fourth-and-2 when Mullen caught a short pass and outran two defenders with his 4.3 speed.

Jason Poknis had converted a busted draw play into a sensational 16-yard run on the play before Mullen's touchdown. Corey Contee booted the extra point.

Southern scored on its second possession when another game-breaker, Wayne Small, caught the first of his two touchdown passes from quarterback Joe McCafferty. It was on a third-and-7 situation and was good for 54 yards. Contee's extra point made it 14-0.

Hammond then launched a 71-yard drive to the 1-yard line only to be frustrated again.

On fourth down Mullen stepped up to intercept a pass and he returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. The play broke a 26-year-old Southern record for the longest interception return. The previous record was 86 yards by Gill Girton in 1967.

A 48-yard Hammond drive followed, but it ended with a missed 35-yard field-goal attempt.

Southern then clinched the victory with a 13-play, 82-yard drive that culminated with Contee's 2-yard touchdown run on third down.

After an offsides penalty against Southern, Contee missed the extra point, but it was still 27-0.

Hammond drove to the Bulldogs' 35 on its first possession of the second half, but Jason Hahn's interception and 52-yard return gave Southern the ball at Hammond's 18.

From there the Bulldogs scored on three plays with Poknis catching a 14-yard pass for the touchdown.

Southern's Joe Kajeski recovered a Hammond fumble at the 50-yard line and ran it back to the 8, setting up the final score. McCafferty hit Small with an 8-yard pass in the end zone on

fourth down.

The teams were amazingly close in total offense. Southern had 292 yards to 257 for Hammond. But the Bears committed four turnovers to two for Southern.

McCafferty was nearly perfect, completing seven of eight passes for 160 yards and four touchdowns.

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