Mt. Zion continued its resurrection under first-year coach Keith Holloway, stopping Trion on a two-point attempt in overtime to win a 14-13 homecoming thriller, while Haralson County had to go two overtimes before celebrating a 36-34 must-win over Rockmart at Taylor Memorial Stadium. No. 7 Heard County, meanwhile, won the battle of unbeatens in Region 5-AA with a 28-21, come-from-behind victory against Manchester at Staples Stadium.
For the Eagles (3-3, 2-1 Region 6A-A), who have dropped two one-point games and a seven-point game this season, finally coming out on top in a one-point affair — especially in the manner in which they did — proved to be even more rewarding for Holloway and Co.
“You tell the kids to keep on fighting and to never give up and it finally pays off. That’s what it’s all about. You never give up. You never stop,” Holloway said. “I was just proud for our kids and our coaches and our school. It was just a huge win for us and we needed to win a close one. We’d lost some close ones and that was a big shot in the arm for us.”
The Eagles have now won two games in a row for the first time since the 2008 season when they started off the year 4-0. MZ can stretch its win streak to three games next Friday when it travels to face Cross Keys (0-6) at North DeKalb Stadium.
Haralson County coach Alan Lane knew his team couldn’t afford to lose another Region 4-AAA contest after having one slip out of its hands last week at B.E.S.T. Academy, making the two-point, double-overtime victory that much more critical in keeping the Rebels’ playoff hopes alive.
Lane usually keeps his offense pretty basic and pretty much the same week-to-week, but that all changed as HC (4-3, 2-2 Region 4-AAA) prepared for Rockmart.
After losing senior tight end Seth Neeley for the year to injury, the second-year coach had to make some changes if the offense was going to continue to be effective.
“When you have two or three receivers, you can do some things. When you’re down to one or two, we were in a bind. And both of our receivers go both ways. So we put in more option [Friday] night. I think our option game was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 80 percent of our snaps,” Lane said.
The Rebels got themselves back in the playoff hunt, but face a tough task as they travel to first-place Callaway (5-1, 3-0) next Friday night.
Heard County (6-0, 4-0 Region 5-AA) hasn’t trailed often this season, but it was behind Manchester the majority of the evening before rallying to tie the game up and prevailing in overtime to take over sole possession of first place in 5-AA.
The Blue Devil defense allowed a 44-yard touchdown run to standout sophomore tailback Duranta Dunson early in the game, but Manchester was able to hold the Braves’ all-purpose performer to 91 yards on 18 carries — Dunson’s first game where he didn’t crack the 100-yard mark all season. Heard County offensive coordinator Randall Kurbow did note that Dunson’s 59-yard reception on a screen pass may have been the best run of his young career. Dunson also recorded 17 tackles defensively from his free safety position, including 10 solo stops.
The Braves got three touchdown runs by quarterback Jonathan Hunt to lead the offense, while Ta Freeland and Tori Rogers made huge interceptions late in the game.
“Obviously, it’s big when you have to battle the way we had to battle to get a win. You feel good about your kids being able to handle adversity and fight through it to come back. We were down against Callaway earlier in the year, I think we were down 10 in that one. They’ve been in that situation this year,” Heard County coach Tim Barron said. “They kept their composure and kept battling.”
Tripping up Troup
No. 5 Carrollton (4-2, 3-0 Region 5-AAAA) got plenty of help from Troup (1-5, 1-2) in its 45-13 region home win — the Tigers fumbled five times and lost four of them — but Trojan coach Rayvan Teague noted that his defensive front had much to do with Troup’s ball-security bugaboos.
Carrollton’s front line was in the Tiger backfield on just about every one of Troup’s 18 offensive snaps in the first half, disrupting the quarterback-tailback exchange on several occasions.
Moving forward, Carrollton could potentially secure a Class AAAA state playoff berth with a win over Shaw (3-3, 1-2) next week for homecoming. And even if the Trojans don’t clinch one of the four spots next week — which would depend on the outcome of two other region games that night — they’d really solidify their chances, as they could then lock it up with a victory over a struggling Alexander (0-6, 0-3) squad in the following week.
Still, Teague said the Raiders will present some challenges for his ball club, not to mention everything that comes with homecoming week.
“I think they’re much-improved. I think offensively they’re very dangerous. They spread the ball out and they’ve got great skill guys, a really good quarterback. A very explosive team. They’re very athletic defensively. They’re one of the playoff teams — no doubt. We’ll have to handle all the distractions of homecoming. I really didn’t pick it this way, it was just the way it laid in the season. We’ll have to handle the distractions for homecoming, get over the glitches and the injuries and try to come out and execute really well,” Teague said.
Lions not Discouraged
In a battle of region unbeatens, Central (4-3, 3-1 Region 4-AAA) fell a little short on Friday night, but that didn’t discourage Grant Chesnut.
What the second-year coach saw was his team develop into a group that could contend with some of the best competition it would face. So even in a loss, there were positives to take from the 14-10 homecoming setback to Callaway (5-1, 3-0).
“Quite honestly, yeah. For our program, as we continue to build our program, we played a team that will probably be in the top 10 in The Atlanta Journal-[Constitution] next week after this win and went toe-to-toe with them. Quite honestly, I don’t think they wanted to play another quarter against us. They looked pretty beat up and tired at the end of it. I’m not saying that arrogantly — it is what it is. I’m proud of our kids,” Chesnut said. “If that’s the best this region has to offer, then we’ve got a chance to do some special things here. We just got to keep working and keep grinding.”
Central fullback Jayleen Terry continued his breakout sophomore campaign, rushing for 147 yards on 29 carries.
The Bremen Bounce-Back Factor
If you need to know one thing about the 2012 version of Bremen, it’s that you don’t want to face the Blue Devils (4-3, 3-2 Region 5-AA) when they’re coming off a loss.
Bremen and Blue Devil coach Ricky Tolleson were obviously not pleased about being upset victims to Kendrick last week in a 12-8 region setback, and they took their frustrations out on Spencer in a 55-26 drumming on Friday night.
For the year, the Blue Devils have now out-scored their opponents 144-40 the game after a loss, and Tolleson said his seniors made the difference in this latest example.
“They were challenged and our backs were against the wall and we were at home and I was so proud of our seniors. I thought they responded in an emotional fashion, and it showed on the field,” Tolleson said. “I’m just very, very proud of them.”
Another Feather in his Cap
Legendary Bowdon coach Dwight Hochstetler has been in the game long enough — and ultimately been successful long enough — to have enjoyed a number of milestones. And he added another one to his hall of fame Rolodex on Friday night with the Red Devils’ 47-7 victory over Temple.
The win marked No. 324 of his career, moving Hochstetler into fourth place on the all-time list in Georgia by his lonesome after sharing the honor with the late Luther Welsh for a week.
Now with a career mark of 324-107-1 (.751), Hochstetler sits behind Dan Pitts (346), Robert Davis (352) and Larry Campbell (464) for career wins in the Peach State, according to GHSFHA.COM.
Hochstetler could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Momentum Building in VR
With its second win in as many games, Villa Rica (3-3, 3-3 Region 5-AAAAA) has put itself in the middle of the pack in the region standings heading up to state-ranked and unbeaten Allatoona (6-0, 6-0) next week.
The Wildcats earned a 21-7 victory over Lithia Springs on Friday night at Sam McIntyre Field, as the defense nearly pitched the shutout until the Lions got on the scoreboard in the final minutes.
VR will now face its second ranked opponent in the region slate, as the Buccaneers are No. 8 in Class AAAAA. The Cats dropped a 38-0 decision at No. 5 East Paulding on Sept. 28 before collecting wins over Woodland, Cartersville and Lithia Springs the past two weeks.
VR coach Mike Falleur could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
No Excuses in Temple
Although things haven’t quite gone as planned for Temple coach Seth Rogers this fall, he has been proud of the fact that his young ball club hasn’t given up on the season. The Tigers (1-6, 1-4 Region 5-AA) have gotten off to promising starts in recent weeks — they held a 7-0 lead over Bowdon through a quarter on Friday night — but execution issues in the second half have seemed to be Temple’s undoing.
Rogers said his players aren’t making excuses or hanging their head, though, noting that they’ve got to get back to the practice field and continue working to get better.
“It just kind of is what it is. We’ve got to continue to work to get better and eliminate mistakes. There’s no quit in our kids — that’s the biggest thing. They’re going to show up every week, they’re going to practice hard and get ready to play,” Rogers said.
Temple has an open week ahead of it before traveling to Heard County on Oct. 26.
Times-Georgian Sports Reporter Jordan Hofeditz contributed to this story.