Sandy Creek beats Starr’s Mill for milestone 200th win
by Russell Cooks
The League of Running Backs led the Sandy Creek Patriots to a 35-21 victory over the Starr’s Mill Panthers Friday night in a game was much closer than the final score indicates.
As usual, Sandy Creek’s offense got off to fast start. On the first drive junior quarterback Bryant Walker used a perfect mixture of runs and passes to keep Panthers off balance. He connected with senior Kaleb Slaughter for a 12-yard gain, then senior Drezyn “Dash” Parson hit them for a 4-yard gain. Walker connected with University of Minnesota commit Javan Hawes for an 8-yard gain on a crucial 4th and 6 to keep the drive going. On the next play, Walker hit Slaughter for a 28-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, junior TJ Peavy made a vicious hit at the 30-yard line. The Patriot defense has been progressively better each and every week, and Peavy set the tone. Defensive lineman Taylor Hodge got in on the action early as he had to back-to-back hits for minimum gains. After an incomplete pass, the Panthers were forced to punt.
The Patriots next drive started at their own 37-yard line. Jaelen “Smash” Greene showed his versatility by breaking a 46-yard run into the red zone. Greene dove into the end zone from one yard out behind the blocking of Eric Woods and senior Nate Brown. With 5:18 remaining in the first quarter, Sandy Creek led 14-0.
The Patriots held the Panthers to another three and out, and Sandy Creek started their next drive at their on 35-yard line. Walker went deep to Hawes, but it was broken up by Cole Gilley. Marvin “Flash” Hubbard, Jr. picked up four yards to make it third and six. On the next play, junior Ryan Cockes picked off a Walker pass and returned it 29 yards to the Patriot 16.
The Panthers took advantage of the great field position. Junior quarterback Joey DeLuca connected with Mitch Prowant for a 14-yard touchdown to pull within 14-7 late in the first quarter.
On the next drive, Hubbard went to work, picking up 34 yards on 4 carries. On top of that, a facemask penalty moved the ball over midfield. Walker quickly connected with sophomore speedster Judah Johnson for a 38-yard gain. Two plays later, it was Woods scoring from four yards out. After another successful extra point by Benjamin Rutland, the Patriots led 21-7 early in the second quarter.
The Panthers started finding some success with their running game. Prowant picked up five yards before being leveled by senior Camron Johnson. Prowant came right back and picked up 11 yards, then Nick Brown picked up nine as they hit midfield. The Sandy Creek defense stiffened as Peavy made a vicious hit on junior Austin Shriver after a 5-yard gain. Seniors Herb Washington and Demetrius Worthy stopped Shriver for a 1-yard gain, then Brown stopped Prowant for no gain and Starr’s Mill had to punt.
The next Patriot possession started at their own 12. On the first play, Walker connected with Hawes for a 88-yard bomb and the Patriots fans went wild. However, it was called back because of a penalty. Parson broke a 17-yard run to move the ball to the 24-yard line and give the Patriots some room to operate. Walker connected with freshman Ahmad Jackson for a 2-yard gain, then Woods picked up 6-yards, but Sandy Creek was forced to punt.
The Panthers’ next possession started at midfield, but the Patriots forced them to a three and out. Neither offense would find any traction, sending the game into half with Sandy Creek leading 21-7.
The second half started out like the first. It was Peavy making a bone-jarring stop at the Starr’s Mill 35-yard line. Nick Brown chewed up big chunks on the drive. Brown raced for 10 and was only stopped from going the distance by a saving tackle from Mychael Jenkins and Washington, then he picked up another 11 yards as he kept moving the chains. DeLuca threw to the end zone, but senior Isaiah Appling broke up the bomb to Brandon Rew. DeLuca picked seven yards on the next play, and Washington made the stop and forced a fumble but Starr’s Mill recovered. Jenkins and sophomore Nehemiah McIntosh stopped the next play for no gain. Peavy collided with Gilley on the next play, and the Panthers were first and goal at the Patriots 5-yard line. Gilley picked up four yards and Brown scored from one to make the score 21-14 Sandy Creek with only 4:37 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The Panthers made it clear on the opening drive of the second half that they came to play some football and the game was far from over. The 65-yard drive consumed 7:23 off the clock.
Starting on their 20, Greene ran for 10 yards, but it was called back as untimely penalties continued to stifle Sandy Creek. Cockes picked off Walker for the second time and returned it to the one. Gilley punched it in to force a 21-21 tie late in the third quarter.
The Patriots were unfazed. Greene started the series off with a 17-yard run, then Parson added 15. Parson then broke one for 34 yards and the Sandy Creek fans went wild. Starr’s Mill had come out on the opening drive and punched the Patriots in the mouth, but Parson changed the momentum back to Sandy Creek.
On the next play, Greene scored from 10 yards out as the smashed and dashed through Panthers players. With only 28 seconds left in the third quarter, Sandy Creek regained the lead 28-21.
“All I could think about when they tied the game was that there was no way that we were going to lose this game,” said Parson, who piled up 57 yards on only 3 carries on the drive. “We had already lost a game that we should not have, and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that we did not lose this game.”
Not to be outdone, Brown returned the kickoff 62 yards to the 34. Brown was stopped short on first down, and DeLuca threw a bomb to junior Charlie Mizell, but Jenkins was able to break it up. On third down, junior Nick Fulwider made the play of the game as he sacked DeLuca for a 6-yard loss. IThe Panthers punted and the Patriots drive started at their own four.
Leading by seven points with 96 yards in front of them, the Patriots rode their trio of running backs down the field. Parson dashed four times for 28 yards, then Greene broke one for 55 yards and hurdled three people in the process. Now, it was Hubbard’s turn and he picked up 12 yards as he carried a couple of Panthers with him. Sandy Creek brought in their jumbo package with Woods as the lead back with Brown behind him and Greene behind Brown. Greene leapt into the end zone like a deer and the Patriots led 35-21 with 8:15 remaining.
The Panthers next possession started at their 34-yard line. Brown picked up 7-yards on first down, and Gilley added two to make it 3rd and short. DeLuca picked up 4-yards to get a first down and keep the drive going, then ran a naked bootleg to pick up 14 yards. He was followed by Gilley with a 13-yard gain. Senior Kolby Warrior made a sack for a three yard loss, then, after an incomplete pass, Fulwider, Hodge, and Peavy combined for another sack. Appling ended the drive by breaking up a pass in the end zone.
The Patriots took over possession and ran out the clock with key runs from Jordan Clark and Rashad Amos.
Sandy Creek was lead by the League of Running Backs, who combined for 318 yards rushing. Jaelen Greene had 135 yards and 3 touchdowns on 10 carries. Drezyn Parson had 109 yards on 9 carries. Marvin Hubbard, Jr. had 74 yards on 7 carries. Eric Woods added 5 carries for 18 yards and 1 touchdown.
Bryant Walker completed 7 of 13 passes for 107 yards and 1 touchdown, with 2 interceptions Kaleb Slaughter led receivers with 3 catches for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. Judah Johnson had 1 catch for 39 yards, and Javan Hawes 2 catches for 15 yards.
Starr’s Mill was led by Nick Brown with 10 carries for 53 yards and 1 touchdown. Cole Gilley had 9 carries for 35 yards and a touchdown. Joey DeLuca had 10 carries for 42 yards. DeLuca also completed 2 of 12 passes for 33 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Rew had 1 catch for 19 yards, and Mitch Prowant had 1 catch for 14 yards and 1 touchdown.
“I felt great. I felt like we were in a dog fight in the fourth quarter,” said Mychael Jenkins, who was playing in his first game of the season. “We got the win and that’s all that I can say. Eventually, our defense stepped up and made a good play.”
Jenkins’s teammates were glad to have him back.
“It was great to have Mychael Jenkins out there laying the hammer,” said Kolby Warrior. “He brought the intensity level up.”
Duke commit Marvin Hubbard, Jr. was also making his 2016 debut.
“I felt good. It is good for the first game back. I did alright. My goal was to have a breakout game,” said Hubbard. “I just wanted to be where I was before the injury, but I will get there.”
The Patriots were pleased to beat a good team, but they know there’s still work to be done.
““Overall, I think I played well, but I try to never be satisfied with where I am. There is always room for improvement, and this game showed me that I need to improve my play reading, making sure everyone on the defense is on the same page and in the proper position before the snap, and defeating offensive linemen trying to block me on the second level,” said Nate Brown. “We should not have let the score get that close. They played hard and they are fierce competitors. I think we played hard, and I’m proud of the fact that we never stopped fighting and came out with a victory. That being said, we have a lot to work on.”
It wasn’t just your ordinary win for the Patriots.
“I am happy with win. Our guys showed a lot a character again, and there was no quit in Starr’s Mill,” said Sandy Creek head coach Chip Walker. “On a historical note, tonight marked our 200th victory in the history of Sandy Creek. For a school that is only 25-years old, that is an awesome feat.”
The landmark win moves Sandy Creek to 3-1 and Starr’s Mill is 1-3. Starr’s Mill will host the Morrow Mustangs this Friday in their region opener. Sandy Creek is off this week. They will host Troup County in their first region game on September 30.
Turnovers, mistakes doom Whitewater in loss to Chapel Hill
by Dylan Hynson
The Whitewater Wildcats came into their game Friday night against the Chapel Hill Panthers undefeated and looking for another non-region victory. However, three turnovers and mistakes on the offensive side of the ball handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season, 19-16.
“You can’t turn the ball over three times,” head coach Bryan Holley said. “I thought we had a good offensive game plan. The defense played great with their backs against the wall a few times. Bottom line, we can’t turn the ball over.”
A 12-play drive for the Wildcats kicked off the game, lasting almost five minutes of the first quarter. The drive stalled with senior quarterback Stone Kasten overthrowing his intended target in the end zone. Whitewater settled for a field goal by Liam Voigt to make it 3-0.
Chapel Hill got the ball moving on their first drive after starting on their own five, but Eric Ogle came up with a sack on third down to force a punt. The first quarter ended with both teams trading punts.
The second quarter began with Whitewater on the attack again, moving the ball with ease with their ground game. A dropped pass and a couple of penalties on the Wildcats halted the drive and forced Whitewater to punt, downing the ball inside the Panther 10-yard line for the second time. The next play from scrimmage, Chapel Hill’s quarterback took the bad field position and turned it into a 94-yard touchdown run to get Chapel Hill ahead 6-3 after a missed extra point.
“Obviously a big play like that stings a little bit,” Holley said. “They’ve got really good athletes, you just hate to see a long run like that after being pinned deep, especially on the first play.”
Whitewater found itself punting again on their next series, and so did Chapel Hill. The game would take a turn though on the next drive as Kasten threw a wobbling screen pass right to a Panther defender who took it 21 yards for a touchdown. Chapel Hill would go for two, but missed it after they fumbled the pitch to the running back to keep the score 12-3 Panthers with 3:12 left in the half.
It didn’t take Whitewater long to respond as Ogle took a short kickoff down to the Panther 6-yard line, and Isaiah Montgomery finished it off on the next play with a touchdown. The Wildcats would go for two, but the pass was dropped in the end zone to make it 12-9 Panthers.
Chapel Hill moved quickly on their next series and struck with a a touchdown pass for a 19-9 lead with 44 seconds left in the half.
Whitewater tried to make up for the surrendered touchdown on their final drive of the half, but Kasten was picked off on the first play of the series. The Panthers were in great position to take a big lead into the locker room after a run up the middle bulldozed them to the 7-yard line. Musa Ali saved a touchdown on the next play, breaking up a pass in the end zone. The Wildcat defense would come up with a goal line stand, shutting the door on the one to keep the score 19-9 at the half.
“That was huge for our defense and our momentum coming out of the locker room,” Holley said. “We knew they were going to get the ball to start the second half, so that was a huge momentum boost. If they score right there, it’s a different ball game.”
Facing a 10-point deficit, the Wildcats needed to come out strong in the second half, and they did as they forced a punt from Chapel Hill. Ali ran for a 61-yard touchdown to make it 19-16 Panthers with a little over three minutes gone in the third quarter.
Chapel Hill would responded with a long catch into Whitewater territory. The Wildcat defense came up big again as Ali and Tyler Crowder broke up two touchdown passes to give the ball back to their offense.
“We told them at halftime we just need to execute,” Holley said. “We were killing ourselves with penalties and turnovers, and we can’t do that. Our guys came out and executed the game plan very well to start the second half.”
Whitewater stepped backwards on the next play as a holding call vacated a 40-yard run. They were forced to punt a few plays later, and, with the fourth quarter beginning, the Panthers began to drive. They would be halted as the Wildcats defense came up big again, breaking up yet another fourth down pass to turn the ball over on downs.
“Anytime your defense comes up with a huge stop to set up your offense with a shot to take the lead is huge.” Holley said. “We’ve got to be able to capitalize on those stops.”
Whitewater’s offense could not move the ball after two big dropped pass, including one on a deep pass to force another Wildcat punt. Chapel Hill would punt on their next drive and Whitewater faced the same fate.
With only five minutes left, the Panthers only had one thing on their mind going into their next possession, run the clock. They got the clock all the way down to 55 seconds before finally punting it away, pinning Whitewater back to their 6-yard line. With a daunting task ahead of them, the Wildcat offense came out with one final chance. However, that chance wouldn’t last long as Kasten threw his third interception of the night and ended the Wildcats chances of keeping their undefeated streak alive, dropping to Chapel Hill 19-16.
“Those turnovers were definitely a turning point in our game,” Holley said. “If we don’t throw those picks, one of them being a pick-six, this a different ball game.”
Musa Ali paced the offense with 96 yards rushing and 1 touchdown on 9 carries. Isaiah Montgomery followed with 59 yards and 1 score on 11 carries.
Tyler Crowder led the defense with 18 total tackles, followed by Eric Ogle with 10 and J’Vonne Bradley and Ali with 8 apiece. Christian Vermilyea added a sack.
Holley believes his team will respond well from a devastating loss to a non-region opponent, but they will have to bounce back quicker than they would’ve hoped as they take on region favorite Griffin on the road this Friday night.
“We are going to have to be on our A-game,” Holley said. “We’ll get our kids ready both offensively and defensively.”
Fayette County falls to Pike County 11-8 in defensive slugfest
by Christopher Dunn
The Fayette County Tigers suffered a disappointing loss on Homecoming, falling 11-8 to the Pike County Pirates Friday night. Fayette had their chances to win the defensive battle, but turnovers would undo them in the loss.
Pike County scored the lone points of the first half on a 40-yard field goal. The Tigers surged in the third quarter, Malcolm Easterwood hitting Reggie Booker for a 19-yard touchdown pass and an 8-3 lead.
Pike County took the lead with under five minutes to play and held on for the win.
Fayette outgained the Pirates in total yards, 257-204, but could not overcome four turnovers.
Jalil Dabney had a great night on the ground for the Tigers, rushing for 101 yards on 11 carries. Trent Carrington followed with 31 yards on two attempts.
Noah Alford paced the defense with 18 tackles and one sack. Jamarcus Williamson added 11 tackles. Jamal Bass tallied eight tackles, one sack, and two fumble recoveries.
The loss drops the Tigers to 2-1-1 on the season. They have this week off before kicking off region play September 30 at home against Riverdale.