Area Sports...

SEPTEMBER 18, 2002

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Lady Leopards earn first home fast-pitch win
There must be something about Wolves.
In their second game against a team with a wolf as a mascot, the Lady Leopards got a win, this time a 1-0 victory over Wesleyan. But with two area wins behind them, Banks (2-11, 1-4) has only six regular season games to go, all area match-ups.
Tuesday, the Lady Leopards were set to face top fast-pitch program Providence. The results were not available at presstime.
Thursday, Banks will travel to Buford to face the other Lady Wolves team they’ve beaten this year. The Lady Leopards downed them in the Lumpkin County tourney two weeks ago.
Tuesday, Banks County will host Lumpkin County. Lumpkin blanked the Lady Leopards in a tournament recently and beat Banks 11-0 in regular season action earlier this season.
Give pitching the credit. Give defense the credit. And when it comes down to, give the offense some credit as well.
The Lady Leopards were able to pull out a thrilling 1-0 win in overtime against Wesleyan for their first home fast-pitch win last week.
“(It was) an incredible game that we played,” head coach Kevin Gaines said. “I was proud that we are a first year program and we beat a team that has been playing fast pitch for five years.”
Freshman pitcher Rachel Walker stepped up in the contest last week, pitching an eight-inning shutout. In fact, Walker had a perfect game through the first three innings, allowing no walks and bagging five strikeouts.
With the game tied at zero after seven, extra inning rules went into effect. In fast-pitch, a runner starts the inning on second base to speed up play.
In the top of the eighth, Wesleyan was able to put runners on first and second off a bunt. But a key defensive play on a following bunt got the runner out at third on a fielder’s choice.
The Lady Wolves’ next batter reached on an error to load the bases. But Walker responded with a strikeout and forced the final batter to ground out to end the inning.
The Lady Leopards started the bottom of the eighth with Crystal Montgomery on second.
Ashley Dumas was hit by a pitch to reach first. Walker lay down a perfect bunt that loaded the bases. And senior Ashley Gowder followed with a game winning single that allowed Montgomery to score the only run Banks’ needed.
Gowder also had several key defensive outs, chasing down several fly balls into center field.
“It was an incredible team effort,” Gaines said. “So many players contributed in numerous ways.”
In the third catching switch of the season, Gaines also started senior Ashley Freeman behind the plate.
“Ashley Freeman did a great job catching for the first time this season,” Gaines said.
The Lady Leopards fell 13-6 to area opponent Rabun County in Tiger last Tuesday.
The Lady Cats picked up five runs in the bottom of the first off several errors and a handful of key hits. Rabun added another run in the second.
In the top of third, Gowder singled to reach first. The following two batters walked to load the bases. Jessica Rogers also walked, allowing Gowder to score.
Rabun County added two more runs in the bottom of the inning to make the score 8-1.
Banks tacked on two runs in the top of the fourth. Gowder doubled in Ashley Denton to set the score at 8-2. Freeman followed with a single that allowed Gowder to cross the plate for their third run.
But the Lady Cats only increased their lead in the bottom of the inning, putting four more runs on the board.
Banks County came back out in the sixth to cut into the lead.
Walker put down a lead off single and moved up on a passed ball. Gowder singled Walker in to score a run.
Freeman grounded out on her next at bat, but Gowder was able to get home on the play, putting the score at 12-4.
Jennifer Webb then reached on an error and Nicole Powell followed, also reaching base.
Rogers was able to single in Webb and Powell later reached home on a passed ball, putting the score at 12-6.
Rabun picked up another run in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead 13-6 and take the win.
“We played a very sloppy game with the amount of errors that we made,” Gaines said. “Rabun County did not make the number of mistakes that we made, which made a difference in the score.”

Good Enough
For two quarters this past weekend against Banks County, Commerce seemed like a team that had fallen under some strange Friday the 13th hex.
But Commerce proved itself stronger than the superstitious day and inclement weather, waking from a turnover-plagued, waterlogged first half with two second-half scoring drives to edge past a stubborn Leopards team Friday night on the road in a 13-0 win.
Quarterback Josh Haynes, starting under center for only the second time in his prep career, provided both scores with runs of 20 and 11 yards, in helping lead the Tigers to the win.
Haynes, who was injured most all of last season, finished the night with a career- high 106 yards while fellow junior Dennis Wilder gained 135 yards on 24 trips, also a personal-best day.
Fueled by the pair of 100-yard outings and a career-high 62-yard effort from fullback David Bray, the Tigers easily won the yard stick battle, out-gaining the Leopards by over 200 yards (303-100) and holding the football nearly 10 minutes longer.
But it was Commerce’s shaky grip on a wet football and other missed opportunities in the first two quarters that kept Banks County hanging around.
Among the Tigers’ first half miscues were a missed 22-yard field goal on the Commerce’s opening drive, a pair of holding calls, one that negated a 13-yard touchdown run by Haynes, and two costly fumbles inside the 25-yard line.
As a result, the team found itself in a 0-0 tie heading into the locker room.
Savage said his team moved the ball well in the first half but shot itself in the foot with errors.
“I didn’t really think they (the offense) played that bad in the first half,” Savage said. “But we had two fumbles and two holding calls. That will hurt your offense every time.”
But it was Commerce’s ability to adjust in the soggy conditions and limit its errors in the second half that was the deciding factor.
The Tigers committed only an early third quarter turnover and churned out 178 second-half yards on the ground in getting their two scores.
Savage said his team’s effective execution of a minimized game plan tailored to fit the harsh conditions was key to them being able to move the ball.
“You’ve got to play in the conditions you’ve got,” he said. “Both teams had to play in it and it makes you modify your game plan a little bit. We narrowed it down to a few plays and I thought we ran them pretty well.”
Commerce came out eating up yardage in the first quarter, covering 68 yards on its first drive but coming up empty handed when Tommy Eason’s 22-yard attempt sailed wide left.
As heavy rains then started hitting the playing surface in the second quarter, that’s when the ball started hitting the ground as well.
After a holding penalty wiped Haynes’ 13-yard touchdown run, the two teams traded fumbles with Commerce dropping the ball on the 23 and Banks giving it right back on the 26.
The Tigers then had perhaps its biggest turnover of the evening moments later when Wilder hurdled through the air at the five and had the ball jarred out of his hands and into the grasp of Tim Brown.
Brown raced to the Commerce 46 before a touchdown-saving stop from Kenny Flint.
Banks County had a crucial miss in the red zone as well.
The Leopards moved with ease on a six-play, 41 yard drive to the Commerce 12 late in the first half but Wilder kept Banks County off the scoreboard with an interception of an underthrown halfback pass on the five yard line.
The Tigers troubles with the football continued with another turnover on their first possession of the second half, but they started finally gaining control of the game on their subsequent drive, blowing the Banks County defensive front off the ball with a seven-play, 79-yard scoring march that gave them a 7-0 edge.
Commerce then locked up the victory on its next possession with a six-play, 45-yard touchdown drive in the final quarter.
Savage said Banks County, who Commerce now leads 19-2 in the all-time series, was an impressive ball club.
“I think coach (Greg) Moore has done a good job of coaching them,” he said. “They’re a hard playing football team. I wish him the best.”
Commerce’s Friday the 13th win over Banks County moved the Tigers record to 15-7-1 on that date..
The Tigers last Friday the 13th contest was in 2000 in a 49-27 loss to Washington-Wilkes.
“Morgan County is one of those teams that’s always in the playoffs,”
“They’ve got size, speed and quickness. Morgan County will be a very good test for our football team. We’ll know a lot more after we play them.”
“We ran plays where we could secure the ball.”
“I think they played alright. I still think their best days are ahead of them.
“I thought Nick Cox did a good job at blocking at the two-back for the second week in a row.”

Special teams continue to plague Panthers in defeat
Jackson County coach Brent Brock is not easily discouraged, as anyone who talks to him can attest. So it’s not surprising to listen to him talk about his team with a general outlook that is as optimistic as ever, even after the team’s second blowout loss of the season.
Sure, Friday’s 41-12 defeat at Clarke Central (2-0) left a bitter taste in the mouth of Brock and his team, but he feels that progress does not come overnight, especially when trying to resurrect an entire football program.
This week the Panther challenge gets no less intimidating as they host a solid Eastside-Covingtion squad that is 2-0 so far this year, fresh off a 14-7 win over inter-county rival Newton.
The Eagles, one of only two Region 8-AAAA teams with a winning record last season, will likely be near the top of the standings again this year.
“They’re a very skillful group,” Brock said of this week’s opponent. “They’re a legit 2-0 football team, they have a lot of confidence and they’re loaded at the skill positions.”
The Eagles will look to take things at the Panther defense Friday, as their option offense often times puts a lot of pressure on the opponent.
Haunting the Panthers (0-2) once again last week at Clarke was the play of the special team’s, as the Gladiators capitalized on several miscues in the punting game that resulted in scores. One third quarter blocked punt led to a score, as did another fumbled snap on a punt attempt.
“We can’t blame the weather, because we punted several times in the weather,” he said.
It was the second straight game in which the punting game contributed severely to the Panther loss.
In the opening game against Winder-Barrow, a blocked punt effectively changed the entire game in a 34-0 loss.
“We thought we had ironed out everything from the Winder week during the open week (last week),” Brock said “We made some personnel moves and some scheme moves, but those backfired on us Friday night.”
While there’s no doubt the punting game hurt the Panthers, the biggest momentum shift may have occurred late in the second quarter.
With 7 seconds remaining in the half and the score 14-6, Gladiator quarterback Nelson Browner dealt a deflating blow to the Panthers when he scored to on an athletic run to increase his team’s lead to 20-6.
“If we could have gone into halftime 14-6, then it would have been interesting to see how our kids responded,”
Brock said.
“But, I thought even though they scored, our kids still had a good feeling about what we had accomplished up to that point. That was a play that when you get your program where you want it, then you make those plays.
“We’re still not there yet. But I thought our kids did a good job of trying to make plays, but at the same time we didn’t,” Brock said. “We’ve got to try to start finding a way to make plays that keep us in a close ballgame because we’d love to see our youngsters get into the fourth where we’re in a close game and see how they respond.”
Hoping to carry that theme of making plays into Friday’s contest, Brock stated that he will look to build off of the last two games by looking beyond the lopsided scores and focusing on correcting special teams blunders.
“I feel like if we eliminate our special team’s mistakes then were in both ballgames,” he said.

Late field goal slays Dragons
Jefferson would normally be thankful to finally play a team in their classification after three straight tests against Class AA teams. Trouble is, Friday’s game is against ninth ranked Landmark Christian, one of the tougher teams in the state.
The Dragons have handled their opening stretch of matchups against the likes of Apalachee, Union County and Lumpkin County with success, going 2-1 during the stretch, just the beginning of what is arguably the most ardent schedule in Region 8-A.
Only a late field goal at Lumpkin County prevented the Dragons from starting 3-0 last Friday, during a rain-soaked away game in Dahlonega.
A late pass interference call on Jefferson cornerback Stephen Wiley, negated the sophomore’s apparent interception and kept an Indian drive going with 30.9 seconds remaining. Lumpkin County kicker Eliseo Alvarez later booted a 25-yard field goal with 7.6 seconds remaining to virtually seal the win and cap off a late drive in which his team ate off roughly four minutes in the final possession of the game.
“That’s just one of those calls that you’re not going to get on the road,” Jefferson coach Bill Navas said of the pass interference call against his team. “I think at best it’s a no-call, but what are you going to do. The fact is we still had a chance to stop them and we didn’t.”
After successive contests against passing oriented teams, the Dragons ran into a squad that was just as determined to run the ball as they were Friday night. Indian tailback Dorian Dorsey ran sweep after sweep against the Jefferson defense and was often more successful than not.
The sophomore tallied up an impressive 199 yards rushing on 31 carries on the evening and although he failed to score a touchdown, he was clearly the focal point of the Lumpkin County attack.
Jefferson’s Jeremy Smith, not to be outdone, racked up 151 yards of his own on about half as many carries, however the effort came up just short of landing his team a win.
Navas attributed much of the Lumpkin County rushing attack to lapses on the part of his team, as well as matchup problems with the Indians.
“Their offensive line was big and we’re a bit undersized. They ran right at us,” Navas said.
The two sides traded blows all game long beginning with an early first quarter 7-7 tie. Lumpkin County jumped ahead in the second, as Indian quarterback David Richardson ran for two of his four touchdowns on the day, to put his team up 21-14 at the half. Dragon quarter back Brantley Gilbert kept his side close with a fifty-yard touchdown scamper earlier in the first.
Jefferson came roaring back following the break, scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter. “I didn’t think we where ready to play when we stepped off the bus,” Navas said of his team’s first half performance. “It took us a couple of quarters to start playing Dragon football.”
As was the case in their previous game against Union County, Smith began to wear down the opposing defense in the second half, as the senior broke loose for a 54-yard touchdown run to tie things up at 21-21.
Todd Freeman vaulted past the Indian line to block a punt with 7:14 remaining in the quarter, a play that gave the Dragon offense their best field possession start of the day. From the Lumpkin County 44-yard line, Jefferson then drove down to the nine yard-line. Following eight straight running calls, Navas set up a surprising pass play call for Gilbert, the end of which found Travis Reed open in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Indian running game dictated play from there as the combination of Richardson and Dorsey continued to have success on the ground. Using a combination of toss sweeps and option calls, the duo rushed for more yards together (302) in the game than the Dragon defense had allowed in the two previous contests combined.
Sticking with what worked, Richardson ran through for a 31-yard touchdown and following an Alvarez point-after the two teams were tied once again with 6:22 remaining.
Following a three-and-out series by the Dragons on offense, the Indians took the field with 4:10 remaining in the game. As they did all game, Dorsey and Richardson carried the Indians as the duo ran the clock down and eventually set up Alvarez’s game-winner.

Raiders can’t find offensive flow in loss to Spartans
The water flowed Friday night.
The Raider offense didn’t.
Madison County managed just 106 total yards of offense in a 16-7 loss to Athens Academy on a rain-soaked Slaughter Field.
Raider head coach Tom Hybl was clearly not pleased with his squad’s performance.
“We didn’t get the kind of effort we need out of the kids to beat a good football team,” said Hybl. “We’ve got to step it up to the next level to compete with them.”
Madison County rushed for just 76 yards on 34 carries, a 2.2-yard-per-carry average. Richard Stowers led the team with 50 yards on 17 carries.
The Raiders put the ball in the air more than they have in recent years, with quarterback Michael Allen completing 3-of-14 passes for 30 yards, including a 20-yard strike to running back Tony Freeman and a 10-yarder to wideout Tony Tittle.
Madison County’s highlight of the night came early in the second quarter, when the Raiders, trailing 7-0, capped off a 67-yard drive with Tittle diving into the right corner of the end zone on a five-yard reverse. The Raiders called for a “swinging gate” play on the conversion attempt, hoping to catch the Spartans off guard and pull ahead 8-7, but the referees ruled that the ball was not ready for play. And the Raiders had to settle for a one-point conversion attempt. Hybl said this was a major missed opportunity for his squad.
Perhaps the biggest momentum swing of the night, however, came with just seconds left in the first half.
With the game tied at seven with just 1:11 till intermission, Athens Academy took over possession on its own 35.
Seconds later, Tittle leaped high into the air and picked off a Spartan pass, but the Raiders were flagged for a 15-yard penalty on the play and the Spartans made the visitors pay, connecting on a 35-yard touchdown pass with just 19 seconds left in the period. The conversion attempt failed and Athens Academy led 13-7 at intermission.
Madison County moved the ball well to begin the third quarter, thanks to two pass plays of 30 yards, but Athens Academy ended the threat on a third-and-seven play at the Spartan 32 with a blind side sack of Allen.
The Raiders showed little ability to move the ball the rest of the night. And Athens Academy tacked on a 35-yard field goal with 7:08 to go in the fourth to pull ahead by the final 16-7 score.
There were some offensive miscues on the Raiders’ part, but Hybl said Spartan John Tereshinski certainly added to his team’s frustrations.
“He was everywhere on the field,” said Hybl. “We couldn’t block him. We couldn’t handle him. He dominated the game.”
Hybl said his team had some good individual performances. He praised the play of junior Kevin Cash, who led the team with 13 tackles. He said Travis Calloway “punted well” and that Tittle “did some good things.”
But Hybl frowned on the overall picture from Friday night, saying his squad was pushed around in the trenches.
“We got dominated on the offensive and defensive fronts,” he said. “We’re young in the front on both sides and we’re just not where we need to be yet.”
Kicker and defensive back Scott Dills was injured with 2:38 to go in the third quarter when he collided with teammate Kevin Cash while trying to break up a pass intended for Tereshinski. Dills, who was briefly knocked unconsious, suffered a sprained neck and will be out for a couple of weeks. The crowd stood silent in the rain as Dills was placed on a stretcher with his neck secured and transported to the hospital.

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  Banks County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 at Oglethorpe Co 18-21
9/13 Commerce
9/20 Wesleyan
9/27 at Buford -
10/04 Apalachee -
10/11 at Dawson Co. -
10/18 Rabun Co. -
11/1 at GAC -
11/8 Lumpkin Co. -
11/15 at Union Co. -

Date Opponent Score
9/6 Franklin Co.
9/13 at Banks Co.
9/20 at Morgan Co.
9/27 Lincoln Co. -
10/11 Madison Co. -
10/18 at Athens Acad. -
10/25 Athens Christ. -
11/1 at Towns Co. -
11/8 Jefferson -
11/15 at Social Circle -

  Jackson County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Winder-Barrow
9/13 at Clarke-Centl. 12-41
9/20 Eastside
9/27 at Salem -
10/11 at Newton Co. -
10/18 Heritage -
10/25 Rockdale Co. -
11/1 at Habersham Cen. -
11/8 Loganville -
11/15 at Cedar Shoals -

Date Opponent Score
8/30 Apalachee 27-19
9/6 Union County 27-19
9/13 at Lumpkin Co. 28-31
9/20 at Landmark Christian 21-45
9/27 Monticello -
10/11 Athens Christ. -
10/18 Towns Co. -
10/25 at Social Circle -
11/8 at Commerce -
11/15 at Athens Acadm. -

  Madison County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Franklin Co. 6-7
9/6 at Hancock Cent. 16-8
9/13 at Athens Acad. 7-16
9/20 Monroe Area 15-12
9/27 Jefferson Co. -
10/4 Grayson -
10/11 at Commerce -
10/18 Northview -
11/1 Buford -
11/8 Cross Keys -
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