The Augusta Prep Cavaliers have been winning this season on the strength of their ground game and Friday night was no exception.
Senior Nolan Brandon entered the Cavaliers’ homecoming game having rushed for 620 yards in three games – all wins – and added 139 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against Georgia Force as the Cavaliers went on to the 36-7 win.
Brandon was far from alone, however, as the Cavaliers’ triple-option attack included senior Kevin Huggins who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown and senior quarterback Nate Pylant who rushed for 116 yards and three scores.
The Cavaliers outrushed Georgia Force by a 355-184 margin and their defense forced two fumbles.
“We’re a senior-laden team and we’re trying to take care of business but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Cavaliers’ head coach Harry Bacheller, whose team improved to 4-0 and 1-0 in the Glory For Christ conference.
The Cavaliers set the tone defensively and offensively in the game’s initial stages.
Georgia Force (2-3, 2-3) recovered the Cavaliers’ onsides kick to start the game and then faced a fourth-and-two at the Cavaliers’ 30. The Cavaliers defense stuffed the fourth-down run for no gain, giving the ball to the offense.
Brandon bulled his way up the middle three times for 29 yards on the ensuing five-play, 70-yard drive. He finished the drive off with an 8-yard run up the middle as they went up 8-0 after he ran in the two-point conversion.
“We were coming out hard and we wanted to make a statement to the league that we are not to be messed with, this is our year,” Brandon said.
The Cavaliers held on fourth down after Georgia Force drove to the Cavaliers’ 21 on the next possession. The offense then went 79 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown and a 15-0 lead with 11:52 left in the half.
After Brandon and Huggins did the brunt of the work, Pylant used Brandon as a decoy, faking a handoff to him up the middle then using him as a lead blocker, going in from 13 yards out for the score. Pylant gave a lion’s share of the credit to his teammates up front.
“We knew going into this game that our offensive line could take it to them,” Pylant said. “We take care of the ball and they take care of the holes. If those holes aren’t there, we can’t do anything.”
The defense continued to compound Georgia Force’s misery, causing and recovering a fumble on their ensuing drive at the Cavaliers’ 27.
Pylant eventually turned that into a 19-yard touchdown run around the end again after faking a handoff to Brandon up the middle and the Cavaliers went into the half up 22-0.
The Cavaliers weren’t perfect as Huggins had two touchdowns called back because of penalties, and they were flagged 13 times for 80 yards. Huggins broke through at the end of the third quarter, however, as he went up the middle and broke outside for a 49-yard touchdown run as the Cavaliers built their lead to 36-0.
Three Augusta Prep offsides penalties helped Georgia Force end the shutout as they scored on a Bishme Scott eight-yard run with 8:48 left in the game.
In the end, Bacheller gave credit to his senior-laden backfield and, like Pylant, made sure to praise the work of the offensive line.
“Without them, we wouldn’t have nearly the success we’re having,” Bacheller said.
Harlem High School remained unbeaten (4-0) with a 38-6 beatdown of Social Circle on the road. Lakeside improved to 2-1 on the year with a 39-9 win at home against Westside. Evans dropped to 2-1 with a 17-3 loss to Jefferson County and Augusta Christian fell to 1-3 as they were handed a 27-20 road loss by Fox Creek. The fledging Augusta Eagles earned their first victory – ever – as they improved to 1-4 with a 22-21 win over Grace Baptist Academy.