The Lions (1-9) showed glimpses of successful team football early on in the game, but turnovers and defensive struggles extended the Spartan lead further and further as the game went on.
Although there was a game to be played, this cold November night belonged to former legendary Lithia Head Coach Melvin Crook. As friends, family members and former players looked on, Lithia Springs unveiled the new name of Melvin Crook Stadium, honoring the coach who couldn’t even claim a stadium for his team when he first arrived at the school 35 years ago.
After a quick three and out by the Lion’s offense, South Paulding drove 67 yards down the field, closing out with a one yard touchdown run, the first score of the game. Lithia appeared to respond their next drive, but they fell short near the red zone, allowing a blocked field goal. South Paulding added to their lead on another long methodical drive, ending with a four yard scamper to the end zone.
As the first half was coming to a close, Lithia abruptly ended a South Paulding drive following an interception. The following play, with four seconds remaining in the half, a poor snap left the ball on the ground for any man’s taking. A South Paulding safety scooped the ball up and ran 25 yards into the end zone, deflating any sort of momentum Lithia’s team earned leading up to the play.
Instead of jogging into the locker room at halftime pleased with the decent play down two scores, the Lithia players and coaching staff stormed angrily, down three scores.
It was clear that South Paulding had all of the momentum on their side following the intermission. After a failed onside kick attempt by Lithia, the Spartans scored on a 41 yard run, on the second play of the drive. Another costly turnover occurred moments later as a Spartan defensive back plucked the ball out of the air and ran it back for a 30 yard pick six. The Spartans added two more touchdowns in the quarter including a 47 yard touchdown run and an eight yard touchdown run, following another Lithia fumble.
Coach Crook would have been proud of Lithia’s attitude in the fourth quarter. Down by 48 points Lithia could’ve just called it a day, however they scored two touchdowns, both runs by star running back Avonte Boyd, as well as adding a safety on the defensive side, while holding the South Paulding offense scoreless in the final quarter.
Boyd was, once again, the workhorse of the offense carrying the ball 16 times, also adding a 66 yard kickoff return in the first quarter.
South Paulding’s win improved their record to 6-4.