December 18, 2007

Lawrence's big night leads Mississippi

MOBILE, Ala. - Alonzo Lawrence out of Lucedale (Miss.) George County is a football player that enjoys a challenge. On Monday night at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, Lawrence was confronted with a couple challenges: one team challenge and one personal.

On the team side of things, Lawrence was attempting to help Mississippi reverse a trend of futility in the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game that has seen Alabama win eight of the last nine meetings including last year's 51-14 romp. On the personal side of things, Lawrence was facing the challenge of covering's No. 1 wide receiver in the country all night long.

On Monday night, Lawrence's success in his personal battle was ultimately the difference in accomplishing his team goal.

During the week of practice leading up to Monday night's game, Lawrence was excited to learn that on game night he would be covering Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones on every play. No matter what side of the ball Jones was on, Lawrence would follow.

"I'm real excited because coach says I get to hold Julio man up the whole game so I'm real excited," Lawrence said earlier in the week. On Monday night his excitement was evident.

In the first quarter, Lawrence up-ended Jones on a hitch route in which the ball sailed high on Jones. In the second quarter, Lawrence defended a deep ball well before tipping the pass up in the air to his teammate Charles Mitchell for an interception in the Mississippi end zone. Lawrence had another first half pass breakup against Jones on a key third down for Alabama.

In the second half, Lawrence made a perfect read on a quick screen intended for Jones and took an interception 94-yards for a touchdown, leaving the entire Alabama team in his tracks. The play showcased not only his pure speed but also his football IQ.

"The whole night he'd been on the line," Lawrence said. "This time he moved off the line. They were on goalline so I know he's a big boy and he's known for pushing his way in and I just read it and took it away from them."

Lawrence was prepared for the evening with Jones as he had spent all week battling against Mississippi's top receiving threat DeAndre Brown. In Lawrence's eyes, Brown more than prepared him for the matchup.

"I knew I could hold the No. 1 receiver because I was already holding [DeAndre] all week in practice," he said. "In my eyes DeAndre is better than all of them anyways."

In winning his matchup with Jones, Lawrence had a hand in preventing two Alabama touchdowns and scoring one touchdown himself. If you do the math on a 26-7 win, Lawrence's play could very well have been the difference between a blowout win and a close loss.

"They've been talking and trying to act like they all that," he said. "So we just took that personally this week."

In this case, some personal goals went a long way towards helping the Mississippi team.

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