Lafayette closes out 5-5 campaign with road victory
The Lafayette Ramblers closed the book on the first season of the Paul Ellis Era on Thursday night with a 34-14 victory over Gilmer in Ellijay.
“I’m really proud of our seniors,” Ellis said. “It’s hard for group of seniors to buy in to a new coaching staff, but I thought they did that very well and they have put the blocks in place for the younger kids moving forward. I was also pleased that they were able to end their high school careers with a win.”
The Bobcats, hoping to avoid a third consecutive winless season, took an early 7-0 lead on a touchdown run midway through the first quarter. However, Lafayette (5-5, 2-4) would answer on a 19-yard scoring run by Jamario Clements. Max Studdard, who would go 4-for-5 on extra points, tied up the score.
Gilmer would drive inside Lafayette’s 20-yard line on its next possession, but a missed field goal would give the Ramblers possession at their own 25-yard line and the offense would capitalize. Lafayette drove 75 yards with Alan Hu capping the drive with a 1-yard run.
Lafayette would extend the lead to make it 21-7 at halftime as Jack Martin got into the game on offense and scored on a 1-yard run with three minutes left in the half.
Gilmer’s final touchdown came on a run in the first three minutes of the second half, which cut the lead to seven. However, Austin Rogers would stun the Bobcats moments later with a 70-yard kick return to push the score to 28-14.
Lafayette would force a punt and they would drive inside the Gilmer 5, but a fumble would end the scoring chance. The Ramblers’ defense would return the favor early in the fourth quarter by recovering a Gilmer fumble at the 40, but the offense would be forced to punt it away as the Bobcats retook possession at their own 13-yard line.
However, Gilmer would put the ball on the ground again and this time it was Andrew Pendergrass going 20 yards with the scoopand-score to account for the final six points of the evening and the season.
Vyshonn Daniel went 11-of-16 for 131 yards for the Ramblers, while Rodgers caught five passes for 96 yards. Tyrese Marsh picked up 62 yards on just two carries and Clements had 54 yards on six carries.
Defensively, Brady Beard had 16 total tackles, including 10 solo, while Drake Bing had an interception.
“There were a lot of highs and lows this season, but you can’t talk about what could have been and should have been,” Ellis said. “We were a couple of plays away from being 7-3 and we were also a couple plays away from being 3-7, so you have to keep it all in perspective.
“We showed in a couple of games that we could handle some adversity really well, but I hope the biggest thing that the kids got from all of it is something we talked about all year long. We have to stop reading the names on the (opponents’) jersey and just play the game. I really thought we made strides with that and I think we have set the foundation for bigger and better things.”
Lafayette running back Jamario Clements tries to pull away from a Gilmer defender. Clements had a 20-yard touchdown run in the Ramblers’ season-ending victory in Ellijay this past Thursday.