When it mattered most Friday night, Vidalia couldn’t part Laney’s “Red Sea” defense.
The Wildcats recovered two turnovers in the final four minutes and Laney held on for a 22-13 win in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
In the final 3½ quarters, the Wildcats limited the Indians to 48 yards of total offense. In the fourth quarter, Jacoby Gray and Shai Brown each registered a third-down sack, while Vicente Thompkins added an interception. Brown clinched the game when he recovered a Vidalia fumble on the Laney 36 with one minute remaining.
“That’s the cornerstone of our team, the Red Sea. That’s what we call them,” senior quarterback Horatio Keller said. “No one can part the Red Sea.”
With its defensive effort, Laney (10-2) advances to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2004. The Wildcats will face Lovett, with the home site to be decided by a coin flip at 9 a.m. today in Madison, Ga.
“Those kids have been digging and grinding all year,” Laney coach Lemuel Lackey said. “They’ve been through some tough competition. We played Washington County. We traveled to Atlanta earlier in the year, and they tried to feel themselves out. Now is a perfect time to be playing good defense.”
Keller went 9 for 14 passing for 143 yards and a touchdown and also rushed 12 times for 97 yards. With the Wildcats clinging to a two-point lead and facing fourth and 2 from the Vidalia 38, Keller darted around the left side for the touchdown with eight minutes left in the game. Kadarius Wright added the extra point to give Laney a nine-point lead, making it a two-possession game.
Vidalia (10-2) opened the contest with an easy 7-play, 70-yard drive aided by a pass-interference penalty. Tra Hardy rushed for 51 yards on six carries during the drive to set up Devin Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown scamper.
Laney responded with an 11-play, 61-yard drive, capped by Joshua Clark’s 2-yard run. Then, Andre James gave the Wildcats an 8-7 lead with a two-point run.
With the lead, Laney’s defense settled in. Hardy rushed for just 21 more yards the rest of the game on 12 carries.
The Wildcats held Vidalia to 106 total yards.