The Sandy Creek Patriots seem to keep getting better as the games get bigger. The Patriots heated up in the second half, pulling away for a 29-7 win over the Wayne County Yellow Jackets.
“We went down there and battled through adversity early. We probably shot ourselves in the foot a couple times,” said Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker. “They scored first, but we responded real quick. I’ve gotta be real proud of my team.”
It was a long way from home traveling the four hours to Jesup, but it didn’t keep the Patriots from bringing a win back to Tyrone. A stiff test from Wayne County and a barrage of penalties, 20 in all, couldn’t stop the Patriots. Their offense was clicking, with the run and pass attacks moving the ball. The defense was absolutely suffocating, forcing five turnovers and limiting Wayne’s star running back to just six yards.
“The defense played lights out. They’ve played lights out all year,” praised Walker.
The first half was a defensive battle. Wayne held Eric Swinney in check early with just 44 yards on 12 carries before halftime. The teams traded interceptions, Brian Miller picking off a pass deep in Patriot territory.
Wayne took advantage of good field position to start the scoring midway through the second quarter. A short touchdown run gave the Jackets a 7-0 lead.
Sandy Creek responded as their passing game got into gear. Korey Banks set them up close to midfield with a big kickoff return. Quarterback Trey Walker made the Jackets pay for keying on Swinney, bombing it to Christian Branch for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Walker would throw for 153 yards on the night.
“We opened up and threw the ball early, which was good for us. It loosened them up a little bit,” said Walker.
Sandy Creek’s extra point would be unsuccessful, and the 7-6 Wayne County lead would hold into the second half.
The Patriot defense soon took over. Wayne County had the ball to start the second half, but they would hand it away. A big hit dislodged the ball from a Jacket receiver and Javon Jackson scooped it up and ran it back down to the 13-yard line.
Swinney punched it in from four yards out and Arnol Spaniol added the extra point for a 13-7 early in the third quarter.
Wayne’s next series wouldn’t go any better. Forced to punt, the long snap sailed high and resulted in a safety and a 15-7 Patriot lead.
The next possession was another disaster for Wayne as Javon Jackson picked off another pass and brought it back past midfield. Four plays later, Swinney notched his second score of the quarter, this one from eight yards, to push the lead to 22-7. Swinney finished the night with 109 yards and two scores.
It was the guys in the trenches who also did great work for the offense.
“The offensive line did a really good job,” Walker said. “They came off the ball and did some good things.”
Sandy Creek’s defense again set up an insurance touchdown as Tristan Mann intercepted another Jacket pass. Drezyn Parson’s five-yard touchdown run put the game out of reach at 29-7.
The defense had one more turnover in them as Josh Greene picked off a pass to end Wayne’s last-gasp series.
With the win, Sandy Creek advances to play Cartersville on the road in round three. They know what they need to do to succeed.
“We’ve run a lot of plays on offense the last few weeks. That keeps the offense on the field and our defense off it. Our defense is getting stops and turnovers,” said Walker. “If we can keep doing those things, that’s a real good combination.”