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Lee County tops Westover, finishes city of Albany gauntlet a perfect 3-0

Lee County running back Kenneth Hurley rushed for 123 yards and three TDs and also had 91 yards worth of receptions Friday night against Westover.

Lee County running back Kenneth Hurley rushed for 123 yards and three TDs and also had 91 yards worth of receptions Friday night against Westover.

ALBANY — The Good Life City has been good to Lee County.

Call it a sweep. Call it running the county. Call it 1-2-3.

This was a landslide, a Phillip Phillips kind of winner-take-all performance.

That’s what happened Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium, where Lee County completed a three-game sweep against teams from Albany with an inspiring 42-28 comeback win against Westover to go 3-0 against Dougherty, Albany High and Westover.

“That’s quite an accomplishment for these kids,’’ said Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio, who watched his kids come back after being down 14-0 and 28-12 early. “People say a lot of things about Lee County. They say Lee County can’t do this, and Lee County can’t do that, but the only thing that matters is what these kids believe they can do.’’

They believe in Leesburg.

Herald Dynamite Dozen tailback Kenneth Hurley believes so much that he was on his offensive linemen at halftime when Lee found itself down, 28-20.

“I was telling them we have to step up,’’ Hurley said. “I told them, ‘We have to show this whole city we can win this game.’ ”

Hurley showed them. He scored on a 30-yard TD run on the second play of the fourth quarter, and after a Westover fumble, Hurley busted free for a 28-yard TD to lift Lee County to its first lead of the game, 35-28, with 9:51 left.

He finished with 123 yards on nine carries and three TDs as he scored Lee’s first touchdown on a 39-yard run with 8:27 left in the first quarter. Hurley also caught seven passes for 91 yards. And he scored on a two-point conversion run with 39 seconds left in the first half to close the gap to 28-20.

“Let me introduce you to the best running back in Southwest Georgia,’’ said Lee County quarterback Stephen Collier, who ran in for the two-points to knot the score at 28-28 after Hurley’s 30-yarder. “Nobody’s better. Watching him score (on the two fourth-quarter runs), that is the best feeling in the world.

“When he scored (on the 30-yarder to open the fourth), that was a momentum changer. The momentum shifted on that play, and after that everything just came together for us.’’

Collier topped off a big night of his own, hitting freshman Devontae Seay for a 81-yard TD pass over the middle that gave Lee a 42-28 lead with 3:46 left. Collier looked to his right and Westover bit on the fake, and then he hit Seay, who was all alone in the middle of the field.

Collier completed 15 of 27 for 261 yards and two TDs. He hit Casey Hightower with an 8-yard TD pass to close the score to 21-12 with 9:46 left in the first half, and then he ran in for a 5-yard TD with 39 seconds left before halftime to close to 28-18, before Hurley added his two-point conversion run.

Herald No. 5 Westover (1-2) looked like it was ready to blow No. 3 Lee County off the map and back up Highway 19. The Patriots scored on the second play of scrimmage when Dynamite Dozen tailback Dalviness Greene raced 50 yards for a TD, and then — after grabbing a fumble — T.J. Cromer hit Jackie Childs with a 62-yard TD pass as Childs streaked down the right sideline untouched. It took Westover 20 seconds to score on its first possession and 45 seconds to score on its second.

“They came out ready to play and hyped,’’ Hurley said. “But we kept coming back. We just stayed motivated to beat them.’’

The Patriots gambled twice on fourth downs and eventually scored on those drives to put up 28 first-half points. John Wakefield took a short snap and raced 19 yards to the Lee 14, and Cromer ran for a 12-yard TD to complete the drive with 19 seconds left in the first quarter to give Westover a 21-6 lead.

Then, facing a fourth-and-15, Cromer hit Shannon Saunders with an 18-yard pass to the 15 to set up a 2-yard TD run by Greene, which made it 28-12 with 2:29 left in the first half.

Cromer completed 13 of 25 passes for 160 yards but had only 30 yards in the second half, and Greene rushed for 86 yards on 13 carries and scored twice.

Saunders suffered a shoulder injury on his big catch and sat out the rest of the game. He played linebacker, receiver and even ran the ball for Westover. It was Saunders’ first game of the season. He had been out with a groin injury.

“That hurt us a lot him not being there in the second half,’’ Westover coach Octavia Jones said. “We had to use younger less experienced kids at linebacker in the second half. When you don’t have experience, it shows. We didn’t get any push up front with our defensive lineman in the second half. Lee County does a good job.’’

Westover’s offense was silent in the second half. The Patriots picked up just three first downs and turned the ball over twice on a Cromer fumble and a Cromer interception.

Cromer had a good night passing overall with 160 yards, but he had only 30 yards in the second half.

“We made some defensive adjustments at halftime,’’ Fabrizio said. “We knew we had to withstand their first burst. They came out and it was 14-0. But we felt with our up-tempo offense that we would wear them down in the second half. That’s a real good football team.

“They’re going to win a lot of games. Coach Jones has done a great job over there It was a battle.’’

Lee County not only went 3-0 against Albany teams, the Trojans racked up 143 total points during their first three games, including 22 in the fourth quarter against Westover to put this one away.

And now the Trojans are 3-0 for only the fifth time in their history — and looking for a whole lot more.

“This is not the same Lee County!’’ shouted Collier afterward. “This is not the same Lee County!’