LOUISVILLE, Ga. -- Somewhere down the road, the Washington County-Jefferson County matchup at Warrior Stadium on Friday night may go down as one of the best high school football games in Georgia High School history.
Jefferson County head coach Charles Rutland called a gutsy play on a crucial fourth-and-2 from the Jefferson 41, trailing 27-26 late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback George Lane called his own number, rolled to his right and dashed 59 yards for a touchdown, killing off a furious Washington County rally to upend the defending state Class AAA state champions 33-27 in front of a standing-room only crowd Friday night.
The Warriors dominated the Golden Hawks like no other high school team has since the early 1990's, rolling to a 19-0 first half lead, then coming up with Lane's 59-yard gallop with 4:13 left in the game to escape with the win.
"This win feels really good," Lane said. "Last year, we gave up 13 points to them and we knew we had to hold on to win this game."
The win was the biggest in Jefferson County's four-year school history since the old Louisville and Wrens high school's consolidated in 1995.
"George pulled that one out himself," Rutland said. "It took a lot of class from our guys and I was proud to see those guys suck it up like they did."
But after trailing 19-0 to start the second half, Washington County roared back in the second half, getting a 2-yard touchdown run Daccus Turman to make it 19-6. Turman then added his second touchdown on WaCo's next possession to make it 19-14.
But that wasn't all. On Jefferson's next possession, WaCo's Terrance Walden scooped up a Warrior fumble and rambled 27 yards to make it 26-21 with 2:28 left in the third, putting the Golden Hawks within striking distance with a quarter left to play.
"I had faith in our defense," Lane said. "I knew they would pull us through. They've done it all year."
WaCo took its first lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter when Mario Martin hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Sanders. The two-point conversion failed, but the Golden Hawks led 27-26 with 6:49 left in the contest. Jefferson County's seven opponents this season were averaging less that a touchdown (4.71 points per game) per contest on the Warriors defense.
Rutland said he made the fourth down call because he didn't want to punt with a banged and bruised offensive line.
"I didn't want to let my team down," said Lame, who finished with 182 yards rushing and scored three rushing touchdowns in the game.
It didn't take Jefferson County long to get on the scoreboard. On its second possession in the first quarter, the Warriors used an 8-play 69-yard drive to take an early 7-0 lead with 4:38 left in the first.
Johnelle Brown pulled in a 30-yard touchdown pass with 4:38 left in the first quarter after two WaCo defenders had tipped quarterback George Lane's pass.
Then just seconds before the first half ended, Lane against hooked up wth Brown in the left corner of the endzone. On a critical third-and-11 play from the Hawk 29, Lane rolled to his left and found Brown in the corner for a 29-yard touchdown pass and a 19-0 halftime advantage.
The Warriors completely dominated the first half, allowing the Golden Hawks to cross midfield just once. After WaCo crossed the 50-yard line and set up first-and-10 at the Jefferson 41, the Golden Hawks' drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs when quarterback Alvin Sanders failed to pick up a first down on fourth-and-3 from the Warrior 34.
Records: Washington County 4-3 overall, 2-1 Region 3-AA; Jefferson County 7-1 overall, 4-0 Region 3-AA. Next Game: Washington County at Swainsboro, 8 p.m.; Jefferson County at West Laurens, 8 p.m. (Nov. 6).