0831 Damaruis Morton

Emerald running back Damaruis Morton carries the ball during the Vikings’ 40-7 loss at T.L. Hanna.

ANDERSON — T.L. Hanna’s high-powered rushing attack proved to be too much for a young Emerald team to overcome.

Emerald’s defense allowed five rushing touchdowns in a 40-7 loss to T.L. Hanna Friday night at Yellow Jacket Memorial Stadium. Despite giving up big gains, the Vikings had some strong moments on the defensive side.

That wasn’t the case most of the night for Emerald’s offense, which appears to still be having growing pains in the new triple-option offense.

The Vikings committed a costly fumble late in the second quarter, which allowed T.L. Hanna running back J.J Hudson to scamper into the end zone on a 1-yard run two plays later.

On Emerald’s first play of the second half, the team allowed a safety after it was stopped in its own end zone, putting the Vikings in an insurmountable 26-0 deficit.

Emerald coach Tim McMahon knew it’d be a challenge for his young offense to show improvement against a Class 5A powerhouse in T.L. Hanna.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do offensively,” McMahon said. “We’re having growing pains in the offense, and we’re still having trouble getting 11 people to do the right things at the exact same time.”

The Vikings managed just 46 yards on the ground, but junior quarterback Zacoyeis Elmore had success throwing the ball. Elmore made an 18-yard touchdown pass to Damaruis Morton in the third quarter and also connected with Quintrell Robinson for a 40-yard gain. Elmore was 2 of 2 passing for 58 yards.

“We did show a little life in the second half,” McMahon said. “We threw the ball some, but we’re still a work in progress offensively.”

Emerald’s struggles on offense made it challenging for the defense to keep the team in the game. T.L. Hanna recorded three rushing touchdowns in the second quarter including a 12-yard run from Ja’Nike Truesdale, a one-yard run from J.J Hudson and a 31-yarder from Erick Lopez late in the first half.

The Vikings were also missing a key piece in junior defensive tackle Cameron Gordon, who did not return to action in the second half after an apparent shoulder injury.

There were still strong moments for the defense. Grayson Dixon and Elias Ryans each made tackles for loss, and Ryans also had a sack in the second quarter.

“I thought we played really, really hard on defense,” McMahon said. “But we didn’t help our defense early with field position. Our plan was to try and hold the ball, and we didn’t do that. But I thought the defense did a lot of really good things.”

Heading into next week’s game against Abbeville, McMahon said it’ll be key for the offense to continue improving its execution.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids out there,” McMahon said. “We’ve got two tackles that have not played a lot of ball. It’s a tough situation, but we’ve just got to work on it. Our kids will grow from this. They don’t quit, this bunch. We’ve just got to get things straightened out offensively.”

GAME SUMMARY

Emerald 0 0 0 7 — 7

T.L. Hanna 3 21 9 7 — 40

FIRST QUARTER

TL — Jay Billingsley 46 FG

SECOND QUARTER

TL — Ja’Nike Truesdale 12 run (Billingsley kick)

TL — J.J Hudson 1 run (Billingsley kick)

TL — Erick Lopez 31 run (Noah Speer kick)

THIRD QUARTER

TL — Safety

TL — Shy’heem Clemons 10 run (Speer kick)

FOURTH QUARTER

E — Damaruis Morton 18 pass from Zacoyeis Elmore (Wells Anderson kick)

TL — Jaylon Thompson 1 run (Adam Roberts kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — E: Damaruis Morton 16-39, Zacoyeis Elmore 8-12, Jaylen Foster 1- -3, Elias Ryans 1--2

Passing — E: Elmore 2-2-0-58

Receiving — E: Quintrell Robertson 1-40, Damaruis Morton 1-18

Records: Emerald 1-1, T.L. Hanna 1-0

Next game: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Emerald at Abbeville

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.