TYRONE, Ga. — It was a battle at the Battlefield between No. 3-ranked Burke County and No. 1 Sandy Creek on Friday night.
The Patriots pulled out a 31-20 victory in the Class AAAA quarterfinals with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, ending the Bears’ season.
“It was a great ball game,” said Burke County coach Eric Parker. “Sandy Creek wasn’t ranked No. 1 for no reason.”
“That’s a great football team,” Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker said of Burke County. “They won state last year.”
Burke County (11-2) and junior quarterback Donquell Green generated 267 total yards of offense, something rarely accomplished against a strong Patriot defense that barely allowed that much in its past two playoff games combined.
Green went 7 of 16 with 120 yards passing and 110 yards rushing.
He played a key part in all three of Burke’s touchdowns – passing for two and running for the other.
His favored target was senior wide receiver Dimitri Butts, who had two receptions for a total of 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On the ground Green led the team as he constantly found holes throughout the night and broke one big for a 49-yard score to put the Bears up early.
Not to be outdone the Patriots had 373 total yards of offense and relied heavily upon their two sophomore running backs, Eric Swinney and Delvin Weems, who had a combined 166 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
But it was junior wide receiver Demarre Kitt who proved to be the deal breaker and had eight receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 74-yarder.
Junior quarterback Cole Garvin went 11 for 21 with 171 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Defensively for the Bears, Christopher Washington and Tom Ellison each had more than six tackles on the night and caused havoc on the offense. Senior Malik Lee complemented with five tackles.
For the Patriots, the defense was led by linemen Zachary Lane and Chris Williams, who each had more than five tackles over the course of play.
The defensive gem came in the form of Jewel Brown’s interception that led to a Patriots touchdown and lead in the middle of the second quarter.
Penalties were a problem for both teams – the Bears had eight totaling 106 yards and the Patriots had seven costing them 45 yards.
Both coaches agreed it was a hard-fought game with Burke County in the lead until Sandy Creek broke out in the fourth quarter and scored 14 unanswered points.
“We weren’t a very good team at the beginning,” said Parker when talking about his team’s season. “But we improved and made it to the quarterfinals.”