Area Sports...

October 11, 2000


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Timely Play Overcomes Miscues
Commerce lost three fumbles but gained more than 300 yards from senior tailback Monté Williams to down Athens Academy 20-15 Friday night.
Holding onto a five-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Commerce coughed up the ball to the Spartans at the Athens Academy 25. The Spartans mounted another drive, but failed on a fourth down attempt at the Commerce 26.
The Tigers downed the ball one time to take the win. The game was a rematch of last year's Class A second-round playoff game. Commerce won that game 37-24.
Williams rushed for more than 200 yards in last year's meeting. This year, Williams gained his 306 yards on 19 carries for better than 16 yards per carry.
Commerce had five drives of more than 50 yards, but managed just three touchdowns. Tiger coach Steve Savage said the team cannot afford to turn the ball, but responded in time to overcome Friday's mistakes.
"We had three turnovers and a holding penalty that cost us big time," Savage said. "We missed a bunch of tackles. But we wound up making the plays when we had to."
Commerce continued to struggle with its passing game, but did not use much air attack with Williams' big game.
"We're still tinkering with our passing game," Savage said. "We had planned on throwing more, but our tailback broke out."
Friday's 300-yard game was the second of Williams' career. It was also his 17th 200-yard rushing game.
Williams helped Commerce overcome an early Athens Academy lead with a 70-yard touchdown in the second quarter.



BCHS set for homecoming
Banks County High School will look to get on the winning track Friday night with a homecoming game against the Apalachee Wildcats.
A bonfire is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the high school to begin festivities for homecoming.
Apalachee is a newly formed school in Barrow County, playing its first season of football. The school has only grades nine through 11.
"They're a young team, but they've got some good athletes," Banks County coach Rance Gillespie said.
The Wildcats (1-5, 0-4 in 8-AA) won their opening game against Athens Christian but have lost each of their region games so far. Last week, Apalachee lost to White County 9-6.
Banks County will return Jason White to the lineup after overcoming an injury.
"We'll have Jason White back," Gillespie said. "That will give us some more depth back on the line. Jonathan Bagwell will still be out. But we're healing a little bit."
The game will start at 7:30 p.m.


Panthers fall to 0-3 in region play
In many sporting events, the scoreboard can only tell part of the tale. Such was the case Friday as the Jackson County football team endured its fourth straight loss, a 29-7 decision at the hands of region opponent Eastside.
The Panthers picked up 24 yards rushing on their opening drive, but wound up punting from only one yard ahead of the original line of scrimmage. Two penalties cost Jackson County 23 yards on the 13-play drive that earned two first downs while going virtually nowhere.
Eastside took the ensuing punt and pulled a trick play out of their hats, easily scoring on a 60-yard punt return reverse.
Jackson County's next drive lasted only four plays, and ended when Eastside recovered a fumble after a low punt snap. The Eagles found the end zone on an option play two plays later to go up 14-0 near the end of the first quarter.
Senior Deston Stephens grabbed the following pooch kick to give Jackson County good field position at their own 38. Brandon Shields and Terriss Hale contributed a pair of big gains to move the ball to the Eastside 25 by the end of the quarter.
Three plays later, quarterback Bradley Wilson tried to connect with Chuck Kubiak in the end zone, but Kubiak was double-covered and the ball fell away. Wilson found Terry Blackwell at the 23 on the next play, and Blackwell scooted in to cap the drive with a touchdown. Yewphang Vanchiasong's PAT made the score 14-7.
Brian Gower broke through the Eastside offensive line to make a huge tackle, and Anthony Collins added a big first hit in the backfield, giving three teammates time to finish the tackle. Chris McGeary just missed blocking the punt that followed.
Shields broke into the Eastside secondary for a 17-yard gain on Jackson County's first play of the next drive, and the Panthers looked ready to assume control of the game. But the drive stalled, and Jackson County was forced to punt.
Eastside picked up 20 yards off a convincing play fake to start their drive, but good tackling by Kubiak and Collins eventually ended the threat. The drive that followed would set the tone for the remainder of the game.
An offsides penalty - one of many on the night for the Jackson County offensive line - pushed the ball back to the Panther 24 to start the drive, but Blackwell broke out again, this time with a 35-yard run into Eagle territory. Hale tacked on another 19 yards on the next play, dragging an Eastside defender the last five yards.
The Panthers went to Shields for three straight plays, and the junior pounded the ball up to the Eastside 10 for a first-and-goal. Hale moved it to the one three plays later, and Jackson County went for the score on fourth down, but officials ruled that Shields was stopped just inches shy of the goal line with 1:14 remaining in the half.
"Not getting that touchdown at the end of the half was huge," head coach Greg Lowe said after the game. Another huge play kept the Panthers' bad luck rolling.
The two teams swapped punts to start the second half, and Collins combined with Chris Johnson and two others to throw Eastside for a loss on third-and-inches, forcing another punt.
Jackson County then moved the ball to midfield before fumbling. An Eastside defender picked up the loose ball and scampered 35 yards to the 15, setting up the third Eagle touchdown.
"If it were 14-14 in the second half and we don't fumble the ball, we're still in it," Lowe said. "Those two things combined really sealed our fate."
The Panthers mounted an impressive drive to try to get back in the game, moving inside the Eastside 20 on 12 plays and a conduct penalty against the Eagles. But the drive stalled again, and a field goal attempt sailed just left.
From that point on, the game belonged to Eastside. The Panthers moved the ball well on their final drive, testing their passing game. Wilson hit Blackwell at the Panther 20, and the sophomore rambled all the way to the 45. Ken Sanders added another reception to the Eastside 40, but an interception on the next play ended the drive with 30 seconds remaining.
Of greater concern than the team's record is the growing list of injured players. Lowe hopes the list doesn't swell even more, as last year's did.
"I'm real concerned about our injury situation. Adam Doss sustained a concussion, and is unlikely to play this week. Chuck Kubiak was out most of second half with a lower back problem. Adam is really important leader in the secondary, and he's got a lot of versatility on offense as well. Nobody is irreplaceable, but that certainly doesn't strengthen us any."
As for this week's matchup in Loganville, Lowe said the game presents a challenge.
"They're really strong. They stood toe to toe with Stephens County [in a 7-6 loss], and probably should have won the ball game. They missed a PAT and a field goal."
Kickoff in Loganville is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Jefferson edges Oglethorpe County 21-18
Maybe it was Jefferson's solid defensive stands inside the red zone.
Or maybe it was the extra point attempt Blake Gooch blocked in the first quarter.
Either way, it was a strong Jefferson defense that came through in the clutch to help the team to a 21-18 victory over the Oglethorpe County Patriots Friday night.
The Jefferson defense started out slow in the game, allowing the Patriots to jump on the board first. Oglethorpe County waltzed down the field to take a 6-0 lead with 5:39 left in the first quarter.
But on probably the biggest play of the game, Gooch was able to block the Patriots' point-after attempt.
The blocked point after forced Oglethorpe to try for two points on each of its next two touchdowns. Both attempts failed, accounting for the three-point gap in the score at the end of the game.
The Patriots would threaten Jefferson again on their next possession.
Oglethorpe moved the ball nearly 50 yards on 10 plays down inside Jefferson's 20-yard line. But the Dragon defense buckled down and snubbed the Patriots on a fourth down conversion attempt.
Jefferson took over the ball on their own 17-yard line. Then, running back Roderick Young took over.
Young carried the ball six times, cutting around several Patriot defenders to help Jefferson push the ball to Oglethorpe's eight-yard line.
Two plays later, full back Shane Wilburn took the ball in from three yards out to tie the game with 3:35 left in the half.
Kicker Ben Songer nailed the extra point to put Jefferson ahead 7-6.
Neither team scored again before the half ended.
The Patriots jumped back out ahead of Jefferson on their first possession of the second half. After three plays, Oglethorpe found the end zone to post a 12-7 lead.
The Patriots' two-point attempt failed.
Jefferson promptly responded to Oglethorpe's score.
The Dragons' Courtney Wiley returned the kickoff to near mid-field to give Jefferson excellent field position.
Four plays later on Oglethorpe's 41-yard line, Kyle Potts laid a beautiful pass in Gooch's hands inside the 10-yard line. Gooch ran the ball in for the score.
The Dragons' two-point attempt failed, setting the score at 13-12.
On its next possession, Jefferson fumbled the ball back to Oglethorpe County on the Dragon 41-yard line.
The Patriots scored on their first play from scrimmage off a 41-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion attempt again failed, putting the score at 18-13.
Jefferson got the ball back to begin a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive.
Young capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run with 9:52 left in the game.
Potts connected with Ryan Gurley on the two-point attempt to put the Dragons ahead 21-18.
Oglethorpe County wasn't down yet, though. The Patriots went on a 14-play, 67-yard drive.
Again, the Dragon defense stepped up and was able to hold Oglethorpe inside the 10-yard line and force the ball over on downs.
Jefferson ran six plays and punted the ball back to Oglethorpe with only 35 seconds on the clock.
The Dragons were able to stop four straight Patriot passes to get the ball back on downs. Jefferson then downed the ball to end the game.
The Dragons will travel to Landmark Christian this week to face the 1-5 War Eagles of region 5-A. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Softball team smashes its way to state
Could this be the year of the Raiders?
In years past Madison County has often stumbled against local heavyweights, missing out on opportunities for state tournament glory.
This year, the Raiders have been the bruiser in these parts - with virtually unhittable pitching and an improving offense.
And with reclassification taking the likes of Oconee County and Dacula out of the Raiders' state title path, the senior-laden squad is poised to give Class AAA competitors a few black eyes.
Madison County, 22-9, showed no mercy to Area 8-AAA foes last week, claiming that five-team tournament with three straight wins, while not allowing a runner to cross the plate.
The shutout performances were no surprise. The Raiders had a minuscule 0.54 ERA during the regular season.
Raider head coach Doug Kesler acknowledges that his pitching is dominant.
"If we can put up two to three runs in the games ahead, I feel we'll be in really good shape," said Kesler.
The coach then smiled, letting his excitement show.
"We've never been practicing this late in the year," he said. "I told the girls to enjoy their day off yesterday (Sunday)."
The Raiders will open the state tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday at Alto Park in Rome versus Villa Rica, the number two team from Area 6. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Lovett-Eastside game at 3:30 p.m.
Other teams in the state sectionals include Central of Carrollton, Loganville, Westminster and Hart County.
The top four teams from this weekend's sectional tournament will advance to the eight-team state finals next week in Columbus.
Kesler said a berth into the finals is earned by getting "two wins before you get two losses."
Here's a recap of Raiders' championship run in the Area 8-AAA tournament:
MADISON COUNTY 7
HART COUNTY 0
Madison County made easy work of the Hart County Bulldogs during Saturday's championship, downing the Bulldogs 7-0.
Lindsey Barnette picked up the win, hurling a shutout over seven innings, allowing four hits and no walks, while striking out eight.
While Barnette held the Hart County bats in check, the Raiders went to work at the plate, striking for three runs in the third inning and four more in the fifth.
The Raiders picked up their first run of the contest when pinch runner Melanie Elrod scored from second off a Hart throwing error at first. A batter later, Rebecca Booker drove home Madison County's second run, getting Valerie Norman home on a sacrifice fly. The Raiders then went up 3-0 when Sheena Mason scored on an infield hit by Sarah Owen.
Madison County added insurance two innings later. Shelley Bates doubled home Renee Matthews, who singled to start the inning, padding the lead at 4-0. Madison County got their fifth run after Booker grounded out to first with the bases loaded, followed by Barnette, who grounded out to first to score Norman, giving the Raiders a 6-0 edge.
The Raiders picked up their final run after Brooke Kesler reached on an error, bringing Mason home from third.
Candace Shubert led the Raiders with two hits. Mathews, Bates, Norman, Mason, Booker, Barnette and Owens had hits for Madison County. Booker had two RBIs, while Bates, Barnette and Owen each had one.
"That was a big game in the fact that we needed a win to draw the second seed out of Area 6," said Kesler. "Plus it (winning the area) was one of our goals for the season. It was pretty much a team effort. Everybody contributed."
MADISON COUNTY 3 STEPHENS COUNTY 0
Madison County scored one run in the first and two in the sixth en route to a 3-0 win over Stephens County Thursday.
Sheena Mason picked up the win, allowing just two hits, while striking out 12.
The Raiders were led by Shubert, who had three hits. Mathews, who drove in all three Raider runs, had two hits. Teammate Amanda Lewis also smashed two hits. Bates, Norman, Mason and Owen also had a hit for the Raiders, who left 10 runners in scoring position in the game.
MADISON COUNTY 12 ELBERT COUNTY 0
The Raiders jumped on Elbert County early last Tuesday in their first game of the Area 8-AAA tournament. Madison County scored four runs in the first inning, three in the second, four in the fourth and one in the fifth in their 12-0 win.
The game was called after the fifth inning due to the high school "mercy rule."
Barnette was the winning pitcher, allowing one hit, while striking out three.
Mathews led the Raiders with three hits and two RBIs. Bates had a two hits and two RBIs, while Norman and Heather Jones both had two hits and one RBI. Mason and Barnette both had a hit and an RBI, while Shubert also smashed a hit. Brooke Kesler drove in a run on a walk.


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