With former starter Mikel Soles back under center, a power ground game anchored by sophomore Levi Moody and a stingy defense, Loris (4-2) opened Region VIII-AA play with a dominating 56-0 victory over Marion on Friday night at Heniford Field.
Coach Jamie Snider didn’t hesitate to call it the most complete game his team has played since he has been at Loris as the Lions dominated every facet, scoring early and often for a season high in points and posting a shutout for the second time this season.
“This was just a great team effort,” Snider said. “…It kind of snowballed. We’ve been a team that could score a big play like that every two or three series. This was more consistent. Had a great week of practice and our kids really responded, so we’re going to see what kind of team we are because now we’ve got to take this a try to move forward.”
Soles, a senior, was 5-for-7 passing for 219 yards and three scores and rushed for three more touchdowns and Moody had 126 yards on seven carries, including an 83-yard touchdown run on Loris’ first play from scrimmage.
After Marion (1-5, 0-1) fumbled on it’s next play, Soles hit Shammond Jackson for a 31-yard gain to the Swamp Foxes’ 1, then punched it in himself for a 14-0 lead after three offensive plays.
Two plays later, Soles hit Ryan Bellamy with a screen pass, and Bellamy sprinted untouched 63 yards to score his team’s third TD in five offensive plays.
Soles scored on a 17-yard run on the next Loris possession, and Tyrese Jackson blocked a punt that Charoldric Williams returned for a score as the Lions took a 35-0 in the first quarter.
Soles added a 36-yard TD pass to Bellamy and a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter, then found Bellamy alone over the top for a 71-yard score that had Marion faithful fuming, but wasn’t intended to be disrespectful, Snider said.
Snider said Marion was playing seven defenders in the box with no safeties deep even though his team was in a four-receiver set. Loris lost 10 yards on a run play on first down.
“They lined up the same way the next time, and that was the play we had in to beat that defense,” Snider said. “We didn’t have a lot of plays to beat that defense, but that happened to be one of them. Nobody said anything about it. It’s not like it was in the fourth quarter with two minutes left. It was in the first half.”
Bellamy finished with 170 receiving yards on three catches, all for touchdowns.
Snider said Soles’ night was probably the best game game he’s had and likely one of the best by a Loris quarterback in some time. Soles began the season as the team’s starter, but was replaced by freshman TaJay Williams earlier this season.
“He came back to me about wanting to play quarterback, wanting to be in there, and I said ‘You work hard everyday, and good things will happen.’ And there you go.”
Marion, which was again with leader rusher C.J. Hopkins, managed just 109 yards of offense, all on the ground. The Swamp Foxes biggest game of the night was a 15-yard pickup on a fourth-and-1 play that saw quarterback Tracy Hampton and his blockers move forward in a rugby-style scrum.
Hopkins has been sidelined since suffering a concussion in a loss to Lamar on Sept. 14.
Loris travels to Waccamaw next week and Aynor travels to Marion.
L-Levi Moody 83 run (Orlin Mejia kick), 9:06
L-Mikel Soles 1 run (Mejia kick), 8:37
L-Soles 63 pass to Ryan Bellamy (Mejia kick), 6:09
L-Soles 17 run (Mejia kick), 3:16
L-Charoldric Williams 11 blocked punt return (Mejia kick), 1:06
L-Soles 36 pass to Bellamy (Mejia kick), 11:27
L-Soles 1 run (Mejia kick), 5:24
L-Soles 71 pass to Bellamy (Mejia kick), 00.8.