KINGSLAND – Much of the success in high school football is a result of being un-phased by adverse happenings, early or later in a game.
Colquitt County High’s defense wasn’t rattled by Camden County High’s quick-strike touchdown at the onset of Friday night’s action at Chris Gilman Stadium. Senior running back Daijun Edwards wasn’t bothered when, in his first set-up in the ‘Wild Hawg,’ the football went over his head for a lost fumble.
As has been the case since the Sept. 13 50-49 loss to Valdosta, the Packer D held an opponent – this time the Wildcats of veteran coach Bob Sphire – to just one offensive touchdown over a four-quarter contest. Edwards scored two ‘Wild Hawg’ touchdowns in the second half while quarterback Jaycee Harden had three scoring tosses in the first half. Justin Rogers’ charges also overcame a missed PAT kick and a punt return TD by Camden to win 34-17.
The 8-1 Packers begin Region 1-7A at 1-0 and handed the Wildcats their first loss of 2019.
Edwards, the most prolific touchdown scorer and rusher of the football in Colquitt County history, one more time found himself the center of attention of an opposing defense. He carried the call 17 times Friday, and with just three double-digit gains he still wound up with a 101-yard net.
Harden, in one more efficient outing, was 20-for-29 passing (69 percent) for 299 yards and the three TDs. That gives him an even 50 for his career, 27 this season. That slipped him into fourth place on the school’s all-time list for touchdown passes in a season and one away from a third-place tie with Tyler Brown.
Rogers predicted a back-and-forth game, and he was right ... for the first quarter anyway. Each team scored two touchdowns, but when Camden tipped one of Jason Gallardo’s PAT kicks, it meant the difference in a 14-13 Camden lead.
The Wildcats hit big plays on the Packers at the start with quarterback Joshua Brown – starting for the second week in a row – and tailback Jamie Felix combining to score on a two-play, 73-yard drive. Felix caught a flip in the jet sweep motion and went around right end for 56 yards inside the ‘red zone.’
From the 17, Felix caught Brown’s throw in the flat, slipped by one defender and received a strong upfield block to score.
That meant a 7-0 Camden lead just 27 seconds into the action, but there were no more huge gains by the home Wildcats.
Tajh Sanders of Colquitt caught two touchdown passes in the opening period. On a drive aided by two Camden penalties, the Packers went 81 yards to answer what the Wildcats put up. On 3rd-and-3 at the Camden 44, Sanders was hit open on a post at the 30 and out-ran everyone to cross the goal line.
However, Camden prevented the PAT kick from going through, and Gallardo was injured on the play. Though he returned for fourth-quarter kickoffs, Emmanuel Perez did the remaining placekicking.
Camden’s second TD of the period was Felix’ 64-yard punt return at the 4:12 mark.
Though behind 14-6, the Packers had another quick response, this time going 55 yards in mainly two pass completions. On 3rd-and-10, Lemeke Brockington got open for a 16-yard catch on the Camden 39. From the 35, Sanders ran the tunnel screen route and sprinted again into the end zone.
With Perez’ PAT, it was a 14-13 game.
Colquitt’s defense controlled the Wildcats for the remaining time, starting with stops by cornerback Antonio Spradley and linebacker Callon Kubiak that forced a punt to begin the second quarter.
On the home team’s next possession, they penetrated the Packer 30. End LaQuavion Haynes and linebacker Biron Silas shared a sack on Brown for 3rd-and-8, and cornerback Omarion Daniels took away another yard for 4th-and-long. The Wildcats went for it, but Nyquan Washington picked off the pass on the 10.
Senior Tyler Walker had a career night receiving, seven catches for 111 yards. He made three in a row, either going on the fly or taking a shuffle, all for first downs to the Wildcat 41. Edwards’ best gain followed, going to his right with blocking from tight end Carter Boatwright, to the 16. Harden then zoned in on Dijmon Wheeler and connected for his third touchdown.
The Packers were not only ahead for the first time, but for good at 20-14 with 3:28 to go until the half. Harden found these open receivers with a solid offensive line effort, the regulars going the distance. They are Devene Jamerson, Connor Gay, Trey McCoy, Thomas Barry and Remon Young.
Camden’s final charge before the break got up to the Colquitt 32 with a 19-yard completion over the middle. The Packers were hit with a personal foul moving the football to the 14. But Haynes and Silas, plus Zy Brockington up front, were all over the running game, and so the hosts ended the first half with a 23-yard field goal to trail 20-17.
Colquitt may have been getting more strong defense from Haynes, Z. Brockington and Kubiak to start the second half, but the game had a potential swing moment when the visitors were moving the football. They did not get a favorable spot or measurement on Walker’s 3rd-and-10 catch at midfield, the ruling being inches short of moving the sticks. For the first time, the Packers showed ‘Wild Hawg,’ but the football sailed over Edwards’ reach. He fell on it at the 32, putting the Wildcats in prime position.
But on third down, Silas forced Brown to fumble, and senior end Nathan Bell recovered on the 34.
To start the fourth quarter, with it still a 20-17 game, Camden faced 4th-and-3 thanks to the work of linebacker Ty French. Felix took his own ‘Wild Cat’ snap, hesitated, tried to get outside right, but Daniels was there to switch possession to the Packers.
From his own 39, Harden completed first-down passes to L. Brockington and Edwards up to the Wildcat 20. On 3rd-and-2, Edwards was back in the ‘Hawg,’ powered his way left and with blocks from Boatwright and fellow running back Mar’Kayvion Spradley, scored with nine minutes to play. Perez put the PAT through for a 10-point edge at 27-17.
Camden’s Logan took over Watson at quarterback, but he couldn’t move the home offense. He only completed two of eight passes for 16 yards.
The football came loose again when Camden elected to punt. Colquitt recovered on the 2. One snap later Edwards was back in the end zone as a ‘Hawg’ with eight minutes left.