Halloween arrived early for Columbia County's public high school football teams, as last week's prep pigskin action could be summed up in two words: the horror.
Greenbriers Tyler Dent dashes for a first down in the first half against Cross Creek on Friday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Greenbrier and Harlem were scared out of their wits, but both squads escaped with narrow home victories Friday night. The region wins kept the Wolfpack and the Bulldogs in the state playoff hunt.
Meanwhile, in region road games Friday, the nightmare continued for Evans and Lakeside - dual defeats sent the Panthers and Knights further into the heart of darkness in 2002.
In private school play Friday, Augusta Christian held its own version of trick-or-treat in Americus, Ga., where the Lions snatched all the gridiron goodies from an outmanned opponent.
Cross Creek at Greenbrier
The Cross Creek Razorbacks are supposed to be the weak link in Region 3-AAAA. At least that's what Greenbrier thought.
According to coach Mickey Derrick, the Wolfpack expected an easy win at the Brierpatch, and that almost spelled disaster for the Pack.
The squads entered the second half tied at 14, and Greenbrier (4-2, 3-1 in Region 3-AAA) woke up just in time to pull out a 21-14 victory over winless Cross Creek (0-6, 0-5).
"We came out and had a good drive to start the second half, which is what we were supposed to do," Derrick said. "After some adjustments at halftime, our defense came alive."
The Razorbacks, led by former Lakeside assistant coach Kevin Hunt, played an inspired game, but the Pack's depth was the difference. A strong offensive line surge by Greenbrier paved the way for tailback Orlando Pollard, who scored twice and rushed for 114 yards.
Greenbrier faces another winless squad this week at Jones County. Derrick believes the Pack has learned a lesson and will take the Greyhounds seriously.
"From here on out, we've got to come out ready to play," he said.
Next: Greenbrier at Jones County, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Augusta Christian at Southland Academy
In case you're wondering, Augusta Christian still has a football team. Just ask Southland Academy.
AC, which hasn't played at Pride Valley since Sept. 13, hit on all cylinders last week at Southland, and rolled past the Raiders 35-23.
The Lions scored the first 20 points of the game and never looked back.
Chad Cooper blocked a punt to set up a touchdown by Lance Tucker; Andrew Fisher returned and interception for another TD; Adam Nelson kicked two field goals; quarterback Adam McKinney completed nine of 12 passes; and, tailback Cole Rabun rushed for 150 yards, scored on an 82-yard run, and topped the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.
"I really feel good about how we played on the road," Augusta Christian coach Bruce Lane said. "Now it's the beginning of a new season for us."
Augusta Christian (5-2) opens its region schedule Friday against Eagles Landing Christian Academy. Despite 300 yards of rushing by Jake Hiett, the Chargers (4-3) lost to John Milledge Academy in a 54-40 shootout last week.
"We've got to get our chin straps buckled up Friday night, because they'll come right at us," Lane said.
Next: Eagles Landing at Augusta Christian, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Josey at Harlem
Harlem almost saw its playoff dreams shattered, but the home-standing Bulldogs managed to overcome a lackluster offensive performance and slip past Josey 20-14 in overtime.
"We liked to give it away," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said. "We fumbled four or five times and kept them in the ball game. Defense and special teams won the game for us."
In the second of two five-minute overtimes, Harlem kicked off, and nailed Josey's return man at the Eagles' five yard line. The Dogs defense forced a punt, which Josey never got off. That set up the winning score by Kelvin Sturgis.
The last time Harlem went into overtime was last year at Mary Persons. the Dogs didn't have any gas left, and lost that state playoff game 43-22. This season, Lewis toughened the team's practices, vowing to never again drop an overtime game because of fatigue.
"When I make 'em run all those extra laps at practice, I tell them one day they'll know why," Lewis said. "They were wide open in the overtime. The defense was tenacious, especially Kelvin Sturgis. He was running people down."
The Dogs (4-2, 1-1 in Region 3-AAA) travel Friday to face Richmond Academy (2-3, 0-1), and then play host to Jefferson County next week. With wins in those games, Harlem would secure a state playoff berth, but as the close call against Josey proved, nothing is easy in Region 3-AAA.
"There aren't any pushovers in this region. They're all competitors," Lewis said.
Next: Harlem at Richmond Academy, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Evans at Cedar Grove
The Knights lived by the pass, and they died by the pass.
Evans put up some impressive offensive numbers at Cedar Grove, but the Bulldogs returned two interceptions for touchdowns to hand the Knights a 24-13 loss.
Quarterback Travis Clark threw for 220 yards, and receiver Steven Rogers hauled in nine catches for 156 yards and a touchdown. Also, Brad Sickles notched two field goals for the Knights.
Evans (1-5, 0-4) built a 13-7 lead in the third quarter, but Cedar Grove's defense came up with the big pick-off plays to earn a comeback win.
The Knights are out of the playoff picture, but should have a shot at picking up a win No. 2 this week when region foe Lakeside-DeKalb visits Blanchard Stadium.
Next: Lakeside-DeKalb at Evans, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Lakeside at Baldwin
After a losing effort in Milledgeville, Lakeside looked up at the scoreboard and saw another disheartening result. If the Panthers needed any solace following the 31-6 defeat to Baldwin, they could have looked across the field at the Braves.
Baldwin (5-0, 4-0 in Region 3-AAAA) won only one game the past two seasons, but now are perched atop the region standings. While Lakeside (0-6, 0-4) is having a poor season, the young Panthers could turn things around in the near future, just like the Braves.
For now, though, one win would be nice. Lakeside is off this Friday, and take on Butler next week at Panther Stadium.
The Panthers kept things close until the second half against Baldwin.
Lakeside cut the deficit to 14-6 on a touchdown run by Carl Burrow late in the second quarter. The Braves then tacked on two touchdowns in the third quarter to put the Panthers away.
Next: Lakeside at Butler, Oct. 25.
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