Sandy Creek couldn’t get out of its own way Friday night.
The 21-6 loss to undefeated Starr’s Mill (4-0) at Sandy Creek (3-0) was filled with missed opportunities and what-could-have-beens.
“I think we’re just as good as they are,” Sandy Creek head coach Brett Garvin said. “We just didn’t do anything that we worked on all week.”
When Starr’s Mill senior running back Cole Gilley ran down the left sideline virtually untouched for 22 yards in the fourth quarter with 2:52 left to play to grab hold of a two-score lead, the Sandy Creek crowd fell silent. So too did the players on the sideline, as they slowly watched a chance at victory against a county rival unravel through a bevy of miscues.
Sandy Creek’s first half began with big plays and continued with forced turnovers on defense, but was dangerously close to ending with no points to show for it.
Patriots senior running back Jordan Clark rumbled for gains of 21 and 26 yards, collecting a majority of the first half ground yards for Sandy Creek. He’d finish the game with 126 yards rushing. T.J. Peavy, a senior, and Nick Toomer, a junior, each recovered fumbles. The Patriots, however, were unable to convert the loose ball scoop-ups into touchdowns.
On the final Sandy Creek drive of the second quarter, a 30-yard touchdown run from Sandy Creek sophomore Rashad Amos, in which he split right through the middle of the defense, was negated by penalty. On the same drive, Clark’s hard running brought Sandy Creek to the 1-yard line, but the Starr’s Mill defense wouldn’t let the Patriots through the door. Instead, Sandy Creek settled for three points, courtesy of sophomore kicker David Gonzalez, with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. At halftime, the Patriots trailed 9-3.
Special teams was a roller coaster all night for Sandy Creek. After Starr’s Mill’s lone touchdown of the night, a 28-yard pass from senior quarterback Joey DeLuca to senior wideout Brandon Rew in the second quarter, LaCorey Ryals blocked Starr’s Mill extra point attempt. That was the lone block of the night, however, as sharpshooting junior Michael Lantz nailed two lengthy field goals.
With just under remaining 10 minutes in the third quarter Sandy Creek senior punter Kyle Lindsay pinned Starr’s Mill at its own 2-yard line, but after a Panthers three-and-out, a fumbled Patriots punt recovery put the ball back in the Panthers’ hands.
Late in the fourth quarter, Lindsay was called for a safety when he stepped on the back line of the end zone shortly before fielding the snap to punt.
Following a Gilley rushing touchdown to take a 21-6 lead, Williams temporary breathed life into his offense with a 26-yard pass to sophomore Ahmad Jackson and a 49-yard toss to junior Judah Johnson, but it was sucked away when he threw an interception in the end zone to effectively end Sandy Creek’s chances of an improbable comeback.
“They played very hard and they wanted it more than we did tonight, so it is what it is,” Garvin said.
Sandy Creek has a bye week before traveling to Troup County on Sept. 29. After the game, it didn’t appear as though Garvin was planning on letting his players take a week of rest during the off period.
“We’ve got two weeks,” Garvin said. “Things are going to change. These kids are not going to like it very much, but it’s fixing to get real uncomfortable for them.”