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Opportunistic Warriors give Knights rare county loss

Grovetown takes advantage of miscues

Posted: September 12, 2015 - 12:11am  |  Updated: September 15, 2015 - 11:05pm
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Grovetown's Shiyear WoodBury looks for an opening in the Evans line in the first half.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Grovetown's Shiyear WoodBury looks for an opening in the Evans line in the first half.

With the score tied at 17 late in the third quarter Friday night, the Grovetown High School Warriors did something unusual.

Without the benefit of an Evans turnover, the Warriors used five plays to go 73 yards and score on a Skylor Vance 12-yard run, the big play a 50-yard sweep by Jarred Cox. When the Knights fumbled on their ensuing possession, it took the Warriors four plays to go 42 yards, with Shiyear Woodbury’s 34-yard touchdown romp with 9:47 left all but putting the game away as they went on to the 34-24 triumph.

The win was the first for a Columbia County team over Evans since Lakeside beat the Knights, 21-14, back on Nov. 2, 2012.

“This is the team we had to beat right here and I feel like we’re going to go far,” said Woodbury, who led all rushers with 112 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. “The team’s getting better, the defense’s getting better.”

It was rebound game for Grovetown which lost its first Region 2-AAAAAA contest to Houston County the week before, improving to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the region.

It was the second region loss for the Knights who dropped to 1-2, 0-2.

The Warriors’ defense was the difference-maker Friday night, falling on six of eight Knights’ fumbles, turning five of those into 27 points, including a Ben Jean 56-yard fumble scoop and score on Evans’ second possession of the second half, giving the Warriors a 17-9 lead.

“I saw the opportunity,” Jean said. “I picked it up and ran with it, did what I could. It’s instinct at that point.”

The Knights were seemingly in control up 9-0, but they missed opportunities that could have put more pressure on the Warriors.

A 38-yard field goal-attempt was wide left on their first possession and then they had to settle for Matt Davidson’s 26-yarder on their second possession. They were first-and-goal at the Warriors’ 5-yard-line, but a false start penalty followed by holding penalty backed them up to the 20.

Knights’ running back Bobby Berry (14-93) would score from 23 yards out on their next possession and then things would start to go awry.

After punting for the fourth time, the Warriors caused and recovered a fumble at the Knights’ 31 and turned it into Noah Gilbert’s 33-yard field goal.

“Our defense was battling for us and when we got that turnover that was the shot in the arm we needed,” said Warriors’ coach Rodney Holder, calling it a momentum changer.

The Warriors’ Cameron Voliton would recover a Berry fumble at the Knights’ 28 on the ensuing possession. Seven plays later Woodbury would bull his way in from four yards out with 42 seconds left in the half as the Warriors took a 10-9 lead into the break.

“We had the balance of the game in our hands,” said Evans’ coach Lemuel Lackey. “I thought we came out and we were doing some good stuff. ... You can’t beat anybody putting the ball on the ground like that, we put our defense in some terrible situations.”

The Knights’ defense provided a spark in the second half. After Vance was knocked out of the game with the Warriors deep in Evans territory, Jake Knight picked off a Taylor Youngblood pass. When Vance returned, it was Carson Oliff whose 25-yard interception return for a touchdown and team’s ensuing two-point conversion knotted the game at 17 with 1:09 left in the third quarter.

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