JACKET DEFENSE HALTS GLADIATORS
Calhoun now has rematch with Blessed Trinity
The Georgia Bulldogs may be the number one in the land, but they are not the only football team that knows how to win big games in Athens.
For the second straight year, in the shadows of the University of Georgia and Sanford Stadium, Calhoun eliminated Clarke Central at Bobby Henderson Field Friday night to keep its 5A state championship hopes alive.
This time, it was an outstanding defensive effort that led to a 31-7 road victory, propelling the Jackets to the 5A state semifinals next Friday evening and a rematch against fellow Region 7 member Blessed Trinity, which ousted Villa Rica, 49-7, Friday night near Atlanta.
While the offensive line’s work, the running of back Caden Williams and the seven points by kicker Sergio Sanchez were huge in the third-round playoff win, this night belonged to the Calhoun defense, which gave up a touchdown on the Gladiators’ first possession of the game and pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
And they were more than threatened a couple of times in the final 36 minutes, but
put up a wall every time the home team got close to the goal line.
The Yellow Jackets put immediate pressure on their hosts by scoring the first time they had the ball.
After taking the opening kickoff, they picked up a first down before an inside handoff to Cole Speer, who has verbally committed to play college football at UGA, resulted in a 55-yard touchdown run less than two minutes in. Sanchez made the first of his four PATs and the visitors led 7-0.
Overcoming three false start penalties but helped out by a Calhoun pass interference call,
CC came back with its only score of the evening.
The Gladiators used nine plays to go 69 yards and tie the game at seven on a 6-yard scoring run with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
But Calhoun answered right away with Speer making another big play, this time snatching a one-handed aerial and turning it into a 51-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Lewis for a 14-7 lead just 90 seconds later.
From there, the Jackets defense stopped every CC scoring opportunity and offensively, they turned primarily to the ground game with Williams staying busy.
After Calhoun’s second score, the Gladiators had an 18-play, 69-yard, seven-minute ownership that resulted in no points when the Jackets made a goal line stand.
Taking over at their own one, the Jackets went back the other way themselves, but an interception in the end zone and a nice return set CC up at its own 40. The Gladiators kept the back-and-forth going by moving inside the Calhoun 5, but this time the Jackets forced a missed gield goal to end the first half.
Calhoun’s first drive of the third quarter would conclude with a Sanchez 21-yard field goal that pushed their lead to 17-7.
The defense would set up Calhoun’s fourth touchdown when stinger Blaze Hammett recovered a fumble and went 50 yards on the return. Soon after, Williams ended the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run and 90 seconds into the fourth, Calhoun led 24-7.
A Williams 7-yard run capped off a seven-minute drive the next time they had the ball that was the visitors’ final score with 1:55 to play.
Calhoun is now 11-2 on the year.
Clarke Central had its 10game win streak snapped and closes with a 10-3 record.