|The battle of Highway 53|
|Written by Matthew Caldwell|
|Thursday, 08 November 2012|
“We went in going with the premise that we wanted to try and tire them out and take some of the starch out,” said Titans head coach Terry Tuley. “That was the no-huddle with Kawon and Zantravious in the backfield. You are looking at three dangerous weapons and you have to figure out which one will hurt you. Most importantly was keep them on their hands, get the play run it, get the play and run it, and we pretty much did that in the first quarter.”
The Titans had 579 total yards of offense, with 320 rushing yards in the second half alone. They had 448 rushing yards in the game, led by Kawon Bryant’s 231 yards on 13 carries. He had three touchdowns (5, 53 and 13 yards). Nick Colvin had 11 carries for 168 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Zack Sims. Kevon Hudson also had a 32-yard touchdown run late in the fourth.
“We felt like if we can get through the first half with any kind of comfort, the second half would start to take its toll and it did,” Tuley said. “We were fortunate to break some runs and miss some tackles.”
The Warriors were led by quarterback Connor White. He was 15-for-40 for 285 yards with two touchdown passes but three interceptions. He rushed the ball for 41 yards on seven carries. Ikwaan Jones had a 14-yard touchdown rush and a 2-yard touchdown rush.
“We played real hard. On paper, it shouldn’t have been that close but the reality is we came fired up and ready to play,” said Warriors head coach Mitch Olson. “We had some bad luck with field position and gave them a short field. You can’t give them a short field. They are too good. Once you get behind, things start rolling downfield.
Despite the disparity in the records between both teams, the favored-Titans weren’t going in looking past the Warriors.
“We talked all week that the most dangerous opponent is an opponent with nothing to lose,” Colvin said. “We knew they had a dangerous offense and some key players on defense that can make big plays. We weren’t underestimating them. We knew they were going to have their best game against us.”
The Titans didn’t take long to score in the first quarter. On their fourth play from scrimmage, Colvin ran 48 yards into the end zone with 10:53 left.
The Warriors responded three minutes later with a 10-yard touchdown pass from White to Jones. The drive began on their own 15 and featured four plays of 10 yards or more, including a triple-reverse that gained 19 yards one play after a fake punt on fourth down that kept the drive alive.
The Titans struck quickly with a touchdown on the fourth play of the ensuing drive. After a 30-yard gain from Bryant to get to the 50, Colvin gained 15 yards and then completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Sims for a 14-7 lead.
The Warriors were driving on their next drive and got inside the Titans’ 30 but the first interception thrown by White, which was caught by Dakota Greene, ended the drive. The Titans began on their own 44 and capped a 10-play drive with a 5-yard run by Bryant for a 21-7 lead.
The Warriors responded on their ensuing drive. Four plays after a 39-yard gain from White to Chase Major, White completed a 35-yard pass to Grant Williams for a touchdown to cut the Titans’ lead to 21-14, which is how it remained until the third quarter.
“We all walked into the fieldhouse with our heads down and Tuley came in and picked it up and said, ‘The last time I looked at the scoreboard, we were winning. I may be stupid, but we are up by a touchdown,’” Colvin said. “That picked us up. He told us that in rivalry games, anything happens and emotions are high. We came back out in the second half and took care of business and went back to our roots piling it up the middle.”
The Warriors got the ball to start the second half but John Jarrard picked off White’s pass to give the Titans possession on their own 47. One play later, Bryant was in the end zone to give the Titans a 28-14 lead with 9:41 left in the third.
After the Warriors were forced to punt on their next drive, the Titans found the end zone again with 4:53 left in the quarter on a 14-yard run by Colvin to take a 34-14 lead.
Jones scored for the Warriors with 10:09 left in the fourth quarter, but it was the last time the Warriors were in the end zone. The Titans scored on all four drives in the fourth to pull away and remain undefeated in the region.
The ending of the game ended a week in which Oconee County High School was vandalized on two separate occasions. Both athletic directors from the schools expressed disappointment over what happened.
“Hopefully it’s over with now that the game is over with,” said OCHS athletic director Brian Deitz.
“It’s a shame that kids are doing that,” said NOHS athletic director Luis Varela. “We are rivals but everything is played on the field and not outside. Somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. All of that stuff is ridiculous.”
The Titans (8-1, 6-0) enter Friday night with a chance for their second straight region championship with a game against Hart County, who lost last week to Morgan County.
“We are hoping to go back-to-back. That would be awesome,” Colvin said. “We are going into next week like we do every game – focus on our strengths and perfecting our stuff.”
It was Hart County’s first loss in the region (5-1).
“I got spoiled last year. That was my first region championship and I kind of liked it,” Tuley said. “We are going to do everything in our power this week to be ready for Hart. They are a talented when it comes to their quarterback. They do a lot of stuff we do. We need to break down the film and see what they have done recently. … For certain, the Titans will be ready. It will be a good ball game and I hope we get good crowd support like we did tonight and we will let the chips fall where they may.”
The Titans are asking fans to wear red for their “Red Out” with the game being play at Titan Stadium. They have won eight straight games since losing the season-opener to St. Pius.
“To roll off eight straight with a chance to be nine and a chance to win the region is a testament to the kids bouncing back and getting ready,” Tuley said. “This is a multi-talented team.
The Warriors enter their season finale 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the region. They play at East Jackson (0-9, 0-6) on Friday night.
“I am proud of them. They act like men. They do things right,” Olson said. “We didn’t get involved in any of the smack talk or name calling. They went out and played football. They are good kids and they will come out ready to play and hopefully go have a good one against East Jackson.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 November 2012 )|
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