Moultrie Observer

Local Sports

September 23, 2013

Packers out to end Martin Stadium drought

MOULTRIE —  It was the victory that clinched a playoff berth for the 1994 Colquitt County football team, the eighth of the school-record 15 wins that enabled the Packers to win their only state championship.

Against what would be a 4-6 Lowndes High coached by Milt Miller, the Packers got an 18-yard field goal from Neal Clements and a 12-yard touchdown run from Lavasky King.

As they celebrated following the 10-7 win, no one in black-and-gold that late October night could have envisioned that the victory was to be the last by a Packer team at Martin Stadium for almost two decades.

The Packers, who will travel to meet the Vikings on the road at 8 p.m. Friday in the Region 1-AAAAAA opener, has played at Lowndes eight times since 1994 and has not returned to Moultrie with a victory after any of them.

There have been some close ones: 24-21 in 1996, 13-10 in 1998, 13-12 in 2000 and 31-14 in 2002.

And there have been some ugly ones; 31-0 in 2004, 41-14 in 2006; and 51-0 in 2008.

The Packers last trip to Martin Stadium was in 2010.

On their way to the state championship game that season, the Packers lost five regular-season games, including a 37-27 defeat at what has come to be known as “The Concrete Palace.”

Colquitt County quarterback Tyler Brown has an outstanding game, completing 26-of-37 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Tommy Hudson.

The Vikings never trailed in the game, but a 20-yard scoring throw from Brown to Tevin King and a Rich Tyndall extra point cut the Vikings lead to three at 23-20 with 4:45 left in the third quarter.

But two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Vikings’ Josh Clemons, now starting in the University of Georgia secondary, intercepted a Brown pass and ran it back for a touchdown to put the Vikings advantage at 10.

The lead went to 17 on a Nicholas Burgman score with 3:07 left in the game.

Colquitt made the final margin 10 on a Brown-to-Hudson touchdown pass of 9 yards with 39 seconds left.

Yes, it has been a difficult 18 years for Colquitt County in the series.

The Packers have won just twice during that span: by a 21-2 score at Mack Tharpe Stadium in 1999, Jim Hughes’s last season as the Packers head coach.

Colquitt didn’t beat the Vikings again until 2011, when the Packers dominated 34-7, again in front of the home fans.

Mike Singletary, who succeeded Hughes in 2000, was 0-5 against the Vikings. Tim Cokely was 0-3.

Even Rush Propst, who has 48 games as the Packers head coach, is just 1-4 against the Vikings and 0-2, including the 51-0 loss in 2008, at Lowndes.

At least two of the losses at Martin Stadium were just plain excruciating.

In 1996, the Packers were 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state when they traveled to the stadium next to the interstate.

But quarterback Brandon Cowart completed 18-of-35 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Vikings victory.

The loss virtually ended the Packers chances at a third-straight region championship.

And it proved costly when receiver Chas Cannon was lost to a knee injury.

In 1998, the Packers were on their way to a second-straight trip to the state semifinals when they went to Lowndes on Oct. 2.

The Packers had an off-week to get ready, but nothing could prepare them for what happened late in the game.

Leading 10-6 and driving deep into Vikings territory, the Packers fumbled and Josh Williams scooped it up and sped 85 yards for a touchdown with 3:20 remaining.

If the scoop-and-score 13-10 loss was difficult to digest, the one two years later was nearly as tough.

The Packers led 12-0 heading into the final quarter, only to see quarterback Barrett Wilkes complete all 10 of his fourth-quarter passes leading the Vikings to a 13-12 victory.

He directed scoring drives of 98 and 74 to extended the Packers Martin Stadium miseries.

Colquitt had chances to win the game early. Tyran Robinson, one of the finest backs in Packers history, was heading into end zone untouched when the ball squirted out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.

In the third quarter, the Packers appeared on the verge of going up by three scores when a pass completion to the Lowndes 2 ended with a fumble that the Vikings recovered.

In 2002, Colquitt was 4-1 when they went to Lowndes and led 14-13 at the half on the strength of a Will Southwell fumble return, a Brian Knighton touchdown run and a 2-point conversion pass from Montgomery Slaughter to Sherard Reynolds.

But the Vikings won 21-14 when Brandon Ponder threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cory Clemons with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

It was Ponder’s third touchdown pass of the game.

Colquitt dropped a potential game-tying touchdown pass with 1:11 left.

Today, Colquitt is ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAAA in the Georgia High School Football Daily poll that was released on Monday.

The Packers, who were off last Friday, have wins over Grayson, Lovejoy and Carver-of Columbus.

Colquitt’s only loss was by a 24-10 score to Hoover High, the top-ranked team in Alabama’s highest classification.

Despite its 3-1 record, Lowndes is unranked in the GHSF Daily poll.

The Vikings were tied at No. 9 with Camden County in last week’s Associated Press poll, which also had Colquitt County No. 3. Since being upset by Newton, the Vikings have defeated Windsor Forest 87-0 and Hardaway 63-0.

The Vikings have outscored their four non-region opponents by a combined 206-17.

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