FAIRBURN, Ga. - Evans had to wait four years to make a return appearance in the state playoffs.
Evans players run onto the field before their playoff game with Creekside in Fairburn, Ga.
Photo by Jonathan Heeter
After a 34-6 loss to Creekside in the first round, the Knights (6-5) hope it won't be as long a wait until they come back.
"We have built a solid foundation this season," senior Brad Freeman said. "We think that players can follow what we did this season and make Evans a contender year in and year out."
But it was a rough night for the Knights on Friday.
The highlight for Evans came early in the first quarter when the Knights stopped the Seminoles after a botched punt snap. They scored two plays later on a five-yard run by Cheng Ho.
The Seminoles (10-1), the second seed from Region 4-AAAA, controlled the rest of the game, cruising to a 34-6 win in the Swamp.
"We knew we had to play an error-free game because they weren't going to turn the ball over," Creekside coach Kevin Whitley said. "We did that and played a really good football game."
Creekside overmatched the Knights with speed and athleticism that Evans hadn't seen this year.
The Seminoles racked up 331 yards on the ground on more than nine yards a carry. They also had 10 plays of more than 20 yards.
"You just can't give up big plays against an athletic team," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "You have to shut them down early and take them out of their game. Then you have to convert on opportunities. We didn't do any of that."
Creekside's Brandon Crump (21) tries to elude Darrell Ketchup after making a first-quarter catch during the Seminoles' 34-6 win over Evans.
Photo by Jonathan Heeter
The Knights defense forced Creekside into a number of third-and-long situations in the first half but couldn't stop the Seminoles' offense.
Creekside converted on six of eight third downs in the first half, and added a fourth down conversion.
"We'd prefer not to have any third downs, but we'll take six of eight," Whitley said. "You usually win when you have a conversion rate like that."
The biggest reason Evans couldn't stop Creekside on third down was because of the play of sophomore quarterback Eric Berry.
Berry ran for 133 yards and passed for 126 yards, prolonging a number of plays in which he was seemingly cornered. He accomplished that in a little more than two quarters.
The backbreaker for Evans came on a 2nd-and-10 play from the Creekside 5-yard line in the second quarter. Berry dodged three defenders and darted for 36 yards with a spectacular spin move 25 yards downfield. He broke 10 tackles on the play.
Berry, one of six sophomore starters, added another 36-yard run on the drive to set up a 1-yard touchdown by Kimbi Sutton to make the score 21-6.
"We knew he was dynamic, but we thought we could contain him if we made him pass," Jackson said. "We couldn't contain him and he also passed the ball well."
Creekside added two more short touchdown runs in the second half to end Evans' first playoff run since 2000 and only the third in a decade. The Knights had won only six games over the previous three seasons before winning six this season. They also were the first team in county history to beat the other three public schools in the same season.
"I'm real proud of what these seniors accomplished," Jackson said. "They set the foundation and brought this program back to where it should be. It was a real fun season."
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