SANDERSVILLE, Ga. — Each week, Washington County’s staff worries.
The Golden Hawks are still fairly new to the spread offense, and head coach Joel Ingram knows more defenses are designed to stop it.
“Every week, we look at our game and say, ‘Is this going to be the one that somebody shuts us down cold?’” he said a few days ago of his team’s fairly new spread offense. “That’s always the fear. We literally go into all knots.”
He and his colleagues will have another week to fret, because Peach County didn’t have the answer.
Junior quarterback A.J. Gray ran the offense in normal fashion, and the result was normal for this season, a 56-16 win over Peach County in the second round of the GHSA Class AAA playoff.
“He’s pretty good, huh?” Ingram said.
Gray carried 20 times for 248 yards and six touchdowns as the Golden Hawks improved to 11-0 and advance to play Blessed Trinity.
A coin flip will be held this morning to determine the location.
Peach County’s season ended at 8-4, and the Golden Hawks broke a 10-game losing streak to the Trojans, improving the series mark to 1-10-2.
“We just didn’t make plays,” Peach County head coach Chad Campbell said. “They made the plays. We knew going in we had to play near perfect. We didn’t
Washington County converted a three-and-out and a Tyreion Smith interception into a 14-0 point lead with just under six minutes left in the first quarter.
Gray added a touchdown run with 92 seconds remaining in the first.
The action slowed a little bit in the second, Peach County breaking the shutout and getting some momentum with a 29-yard field goal by Omar Cervantes to pull within 21-3 with 8:30 left in the half.
Peach County forced a punt, but Marcel Johnson caused a fumble on a sack right away, and Gray covered 27 yards four snaps later for Washington County’s lone points of the quarter for a 28-3 halftime lead.
“I was aggravated that second quarter,” Ingram said. “We had a little lapse in focus, some penalties, things that were uncharacteristic of what we’ve done this year.”
That changed abruptly in the knockout third quarter.
Gray went 38 on fourth and 7, then went in from the 1 on the opening drive. Stacy Thompson’s sack forced a turnover and Gray repeated the feat, almost effortlessly going 52 yards, and it was 42-3 with eight minutes left.
Melvin Hill’s punt return of about 40 yards set up a 1-yard score by Danyale Wicker to end a 3-lpay, 24-yard drive. And Gray ended his night a three-and-out later with a 47-yard score at the 4:29 mark of the third.
Peach County then scored on a 53-yard pass from Greg Williams to Marquies Price and added one in the final seconds.
“We want to play a complete ballgame,” said Ingram, who got another quality effort from his small yet agile defense. “But I’m not going to sit here and (complain) too much.”