Colby Smith

Colby Smith runs from the North Oconee defense on an option play.

DANIELSVILLE – Madison County threw everything at North Oconee's defense Friday night, but almost nothing worked, especially through the second and third quarters.

Madison County (3-4, 0-1 Region 8-4A) lost to North Oconee (7-0, 1-0 Region 8-4A) 33-14, with the Titans scoring 20 unanswered points starting in the middle of the second quarter.

The Red Raiders gained just 151 yards of total offense. Dayton Gresham had 95 of those yards, rushing for 71 yards on 14 carries and catching one pass for 24 yards. Gresham also scored both Raider touchdowns.

Colby Smith ran for 33 yards, but he had four negative carries. Smith completed three passes for 39 yards, and tossed one interception. 

The Raider defense held the Titans to 128 yards in the first half and intercepted Titan quarterback Bubba Chandler twice. Madison County's offense capitalized on both turnovers with points.

However, the Raider offense couldn't produce points without turnovers, squandering a fourth down stop and one forced punt after the defense only allowed five yards. North Oconee finished the game with 281 total yards after a pair of long drives in the second half. The Titans started the half with a 65-yard scoring drive and ended the game with an 88-yard clock killer.

The Titans did most of their damage on special teams, returning every kickoffs to or beyond midfield, and taking two punts to the end zone. However, one score was called back because of a holding penalty.

North Oconee returned the opening kickoff to the Raiders' 35-yard line and the offense scored a few plays later on an Adam Weynand plunge from the one-yard line. North Oconee led 7-0.

Chandler threw his first interception on North Oconee's next possession, giving Madison County the ball at the Titans' 41-yard line. A few plays later, Gresham flew up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown run. A converted point after attempt tied the game at 7-7.

North Oconee's next touchdown came on 75-yard punt return by Max Tumblin. The punt landed no where near Tumblin, but he picked it up as it took a Madison County bounce and ran through a crease in the coverage. The Titans missed the point after and led 13-7.

Madison County intercepted Chandler again early in the first quarter. Hunter Samples returned the pick to the the Titans 32-yard line. Smith hit Gresham on a 24-yard pass on the side line, and Gresham scored from three yards out on the next play, putting the Raiders ahead 14-13. 

The lead didn't even last two minutes. North Oconee drove 51 yards in 69 seconds with a pair of long runs by Weynand, and he ended the drive with a three-yard score, giving North Oconee a 20-14 lead.

Tumblin later returned another punt to the end zone, but a holding penalty moved North Oconee back to the Raider's 24-yard line. Weynand scored on the first play, extending the Titans' lead to 26-14.

Madison County received the opening kickoff of the second half, but only mustered one first down. North Oconee followed with its longest scoring drive by both distance and time, moving 65 yards in around four minutes. Weynand scored his fourth touchdown of the game, taking a toss sweep three yards on the right side. North Oconee led 33-14.

Madison County returned to the red zone on its next drive with two long runs by Smith, a 15-yard pass to Devin Welborn and a 15-yard targeting penalty against the Titans. The Raiders drove all the way to the Titans' five yard line where they failed on a fourth down attempt. North Oconee had the ball for the final seven minutes, driving 88 yards. 

"I thought we battled hard, we had chances, and made some mistakes offensively," said head coach Chris Smith. "Missed blocking assignments, (and) threw a bad pick there on the second possession of the game. But we made up for it, got a pick back and we go down and score.

"We messed around and got ahead to go 14-13 and just didn't execute. Bottom line. We could have executed a lot better, but our kids battled the whole game. I'm proud of our kids for not laying down."

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