MOULTRIE – After experiencing a little bit of deja vu, Colquitt County High’s football Packers gave the home crowd a little bit of something it’s seen before Friday to advance in the GHSA 7A playoffs.
Taking on North Cobb High and freshman quarterback Malachi Singleton, the Packers saw this visiting team from Region 3-7A dominate in every way but one during the first half on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium. That one way was in scoring, and Colquitt County went into the break up 7-0 despite being out-gained in yardage by nearly 90.
But Justin Rogers’ group already showed a knack for turning a tight tussle into a second-half runaway. Scoring four touchdowns in the first five series from the third quarter on, Colquitt County rolled to a 35-7 win earning a second-round trip to The Big Orange Jungle at Parkview High next weekend. Parkview was 35-14 winners in the opening round over West Forsyth at home.
Singleton came into the playoffs off his first career start and complete game for North Cobb in which he scored four rushing touchdowns to beat Hillgrove. With that win, the Warriors took third place in their region. One week later, Singleton took every snap again for his team and gave Colquitt County familiar visions, that being play that resembled what Lowndes sophomore signal caller Jacurri Brown did two weeks ago when the Vikings topped the Packers in Valdosta to claim No. 1 in Region 1-7A.
In 17 first-half carries, Singleton gained an even 100 yards. He even had some impressive completions – four in all – for 40 yards. In all, the Warriors racked up 171 yards and 10 first downs in the first two quarters.
But no points.
Why? For one, senior Packer linebacker Ty French sacked Singleton two times. Cornerback Antonio Spradley, a junior, turned in two impact plays with an interception of Singleton late in the half and a blocked punt at the end of North Cobb’s first drive. The Warriors also had to fall on a fumble losing 10 yards and Singleton ran into French and fellow linebacker Callon Kubiak on failed attempts to convert fourth downs.
While North Cobb did run 36 plays in the first half, that only left time for 20 by the home Packers. One of those was quarterback Jaycee Harden’s 51-yard touchdown strike on the fly to sophomore Tajh Sanders at 2:47 of the first period. Harden completed five of seven throws in the half for 80 yards, but the Colquitt running game only netted two.
But that was the first half, and the last time Colquitt fans were in the home stadium their team went from being tied with Tift County 7-7 to scoring 35 in the third quarter alone. The Packers didn’t quite reach that number for the period or the whole second half, but they kept the Warriors in check to the tune of 104 total yards, 99 by the 9th grade QB. French sacked Singleton for the third time while JaHeim Ward recorded his first varsity interception in his junior season.
With the football first, two plays into the third quarter Harden found Lemeke Brockington in the flat. Though it wasn’t a ‘pancake,’ senior receiver Tyler Walker made the perimeter block that freed Brockington to score an 82-yard touchdown.
Jason Gallardo had a perfect PAT kicking game, and at 10:51 Colquitt led 14-0.
On Singleton’s first trip to the field for the second half, he engineered another long drive, one made difficult by the presence of junior linebacker Gamal Wallace. But at the Colquitt 30-yard-line, the Warrior line moved twice. On 4th-and-7, safety Nyquann Washington tripped up receiver Sam Mbake well short of moving the sticks.
Getting to the second touchdown of the quarter, Walker overcame face-guarding for a 26-yard catch on the NC 43. Harden completed four passes in a row for 62 yards, and then Daijun Edwards walked over the line from 1 yard out at 4:49.
The 21-0 lead went back to a two-touchdown edge as North Cobb’s Grant Wooten took a blocked punt over the opposite line at 1:49.
But to complete the quarter, Edwards put on a show with three carries for 70 yards behind the front-line work of Remon Young, Devene Jamerson, Trey McCoy, Connor Gay and Thomas Barry. The drive started on the Packer 5, and Bubba Wallace opened the fourth quarter with a six-yard touchdown jaunt.
On Singleton’s next snap, Ward picked off the football on the NC 29. Harden took the next snap and hit Ontavious Carolina, sophomore tight end, for his third touchdown throw (35-7).
That increased Harden’s touchdown total on the season to 36, four away from tying Chase Parrish’s school record of 40 for one season. In the half, Harden was 7-for-10 for 176 yards. His game total was 12-for-17 for 256 yards.
Brockington caught five passes in all for 115 yards. He scored for the 12th time in 2019.
Edwards rushed eight times for 87 yards and his 11th rushing touchdown.