After setting the tone for the game against Grovetown, Lakeside’s Stephen Houzah was far from finished.
After the Warriors won the opening toss and deferred, Houzah broke free for a 93-yard kickoff return touchdown. He also caught four passes for 112 yards and another three touchdowns as the Panthers cruised to a 58-20 victory.
“I just thank my blockers, because without them I wouldn’t have even had a hole,” said Houzah of his kickoff return. “I just saw it and hit it.”
A year ago the Panthers (3-2, 1-1 Region 2-AAAAA) squeaked out a 21-17 win, but they ensured that would not be the case as they jumped out to a 45-0 halftime lead, taking advantage of six Grovetown turnovers. The Warriors finished with seven turnovers for the game.
“Last year it went down to the wire and this year we wanted to make sure it didn’t,” said Houzah.
The Warriors (1-4, 0-2) turned the ball over six times on five fumbles and a Zaccheus Banks interception, and they punted on their other first-half possession.
“It might be a cliche, but they’re a better team than we are,” said Warriors’ coach Rodney Holder.
The dangerous Lakeside offense capitalized on the turnovers. Jalen Harrison scored on a 26-yard run capping a 13-second possession, then it took nine seconds for quarterback Hunter Banks to connect with Houzah for a 53-yard touchdown as the Panthers went ahead 21-0.
Banks was on fire in the first half, connecting on 9 of 10 attempts for 172 yards and three touchdowns. He played only the first possession of the second half.
Harrison rushed for 112 yards on 13 carries and scored twice, while Joshua Jones ran for one score and caught a 30-yard pass from Nick Patterson for another. Luke Harmon connected on a 30-yard field goal as well.
The Warriors got on the board late in the third quarter as Jared Cox broke free for a 62-yard touchdown then caught a screen pass from Desmond Sampson for 12 yards and another score. Sampson finished the scoring on a 12-yard run with 11 seconds left in the game.
Troxler was proud of the team’s overall effort and knew it was a needed victory with Houston County on the horizon.
“It’s big, it’s a region win,” said Troxler. “It was a very important win with us losing to Northside last week.”
Augusta Prep (5-1) took out East Atlanta, the defending Glory For Christ champions, and knocked them out of the race, winning on the road, 41-6. Augusta Christian (2-4) took a homecoming loss, falling to Laurence Manning 29-28. Evans (3-2) spoiled Greenbrier’s (0-5) homecoming, winning 38-9. On the road, Harlem (4-2) couldn’t overcome Westside in region play, losing 20-18. Also on the road, the Augusta Eagles (1-5) lost 52-0 to Monsignor Donovan.