HARTWELL, Ga. - When Hart County quarterback Ryan Poole went down two weeks ago with a broken collarbone, Bulldogs head coach Joby Scroggs knew his team might endure some hardships until Poole's return.
Friday night's game against Laney was one of those times.
The Wildcats stifled Hart County with their speed and battered sophomore quarterback Jad Patterson, making his second-career start, to escape with a 13-8 victory at Hart County.
"The offense was flat tonight," Scroggs said. "We just didn't make things happen. It was just as simple as that. But this is a tough situation (for Patterson) to be put into in a tight ball game."
Patterson finished the night 7 of 18 for 99 yards and a touchdown. However, he had minus-43 yards rushing on eight carries. He wasn't the only one to experience tough times on the Bulldogs offense. As a team, they ran 32 times for 31 yards.
The good news is that Poole, who had nine pins inserted in and around the broken bone, could start throwing as early as this week. There is still hope he could return with three or four games left in the season.
Until then, it's all up to Patterson.
"I'll take (Patterson) any day of the week," Laney coach Eric Parker said. "He's going to be a good one. But not having their field general was key."
Parker is being a little modest.
One reason the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball with any consistency was due to the Laney defense, which was just as fast, if not faster, and bigger than Hart County.
The Wildcats offense wasn't much better. Laney gained 51 yards rushing on 29 attempts, although quarterback Dominique Walker went 5 of 5 for 77 yards.
"Hart County and Laney have been pretty good in recent years and it's all started with defense for both of them," Parker said. "Each team just showed how good they are."
Parker admitted the Laney offense was called close to the vest because of the problems it had passing in the last two games. As it turned out, giving the ball to Jarrett Moye 16 times was a good thing.
"Normally, we're more wide open," Parker said. "Tonight, we just tried to run at them and take our shots. We just tried to simplify things."