wayne.grandy@gaflnews.com



VALDOSTA -- The Martin Stadium jinx continues for the Colquitt County Packers.

Lowndes quarterback Brandon Ponder threw for 172 yards and three touchdowns as the Vikings knocked off the Packers 21-14 on Friday at Martin Stadium.

The victory puts Lowndes in the Region 1-AAAAA driver's seat, raising its record to 2-0. And gives the Vikings some momentum heading into their meeting with Valdosta next Friday. The Wildcats warmed up for the Vikings with a 42-0 victory over Tift County on Friday.

The loss in the region-opener drops the Packers to 4-2 overall and 0-1 in the region.

And for the third year in a row, the Packers lose a close one to the Vikings. The last two were by 13-12 and 21-20 scores.

And the losing streak against Lowndes in Valdosta, which dates back to 1996, also continues.

The Vikings were able to throw the ball effectively against the Packers, who had not surrendered a passing touchdown in their first five games. And the Vikings rolled up 325 yards of offense against a Packers defense that had been sterling in its first five games.

And the Packers committed two costly turnovers: a first-quarter interception that led to a Vikings touchdown and a fourth-quarter fumble on a first-and-goal at the Lowndes 4.

The Packers also dropped a potential game-tying touchdown pass with 1:11 left in the game.

Ponder completed 12-of-15 passes for 172 yards and had two scoring passes to Cory Clemons and another to Demetrius Henry.

The final touchdown pass, a 25-yarder to Clemons with 4:50 left in the third quarter, got the lead back from the Packers, who led 14-13 at the half.

And the Packers, despite two golden opportunities in the final two quarters, could not push a score across.

When Colquitt County linebacker Will Southwell picked up a Lowndes fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game, it appeared as if the Packers' long frustration at Martin Stadium might be over.

But Jim Faircloth's extra point attempt sailed wide right and Vikings needed just five plays to tie the game.

Ponder hit Henry with a screen pass and Henry did the rest, weaving his way through the Packers secondary for a touchdown with 9:23 left in the first quarter. It was the first touchdown pass Colquitt County had allowed this season.

Lowndes, too, missed its extra point when the snap was poor and Ponder's throw to the end zone was knocked away by Southwell.

The Vikings took the lead on their next possession after freshman Jamel Demps intercepted Montgomery Slaughter's first pass of the game.

The Vikings converted on fourth-and-inches at the Packers 12 and two plays later Ponder hit Clemons on a slant in the end zone from 6 yards out. Yancy Hartman's extra point put the Vikings up 13-6 with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

By the end of the quarter, Lowndes had 137 yards of offense. Colquitt had just 8 yards.

But the Packers began to shut the Vikings down in the second quarter and got some help when a Brad Johnson punt return to the Packers 20 was called back on a clip and Lowndes was forced to start at its own 15.

Hartman had a 51-yard punt four plays later, but a Lowndes personal foul on the punt return gave Colquitt possession at the Lowndes 43.

On the first play, Slaughter hit Ferrer streaking down the left sideline for a 38-yard gain to the Vikings 5.

On third down, Brian Knighton punched in for the touchdown.

After the Packers called a timeout, Colquitt went for two and Slaughter drilled a completion to Sherard Reynolds to put the Packers up 14-13 with 4:09 left in the half.

A goal line stand protected the lead.

The Vikings drove from their 40 to a first down at the Colquitt 8.

But after three plays got them just to the 1, the Vikings called timeout.

On the fourth-and-goal, the Vikings pitched it to Johnson, who was buried for a yard loss with just two seconds left in the half.

Although trailing at the half, Lowndes dominated the statistics, rolling up 204 yards to just 72 for the Packers.

Ponder was 8-for-10 in the first half for 104 ya





rds and threw the first two scoring passes the Packers have surrendered this season.

Colquitt had just 43 yards passing and just 29 yards on 11 carries in the first 24 minutes.

Lowndes retook the lead on its first possession of the third quarter, driving 63 yards on10 plays. Ponder's third touchdown pass of the game, this one from 25 yards out to Clemons, put the Vikings up 21-14.

Colquitt then made two critical mistakes in the fourth quarter.

Successive 17- and 21-yard runs by Knighton gave the Packers at first and goal at he Lowndes 4.

But on first down, Slaughter fumbled the ball away, thwarting the drive.

Then the Packers appeared to hold on the Lowndes 19, forcing a punt. But Hartman's kick hit a Packer downfield and Lowndes recovered, taking over on the Colquitt 49.

Lowndes drove to the Packers 14, but Hartman's 32-yard field goal attempt was just short, giving the Packers one more opportunity.

Colquitt's drive got a boost on a fourth-down completion to Reynolds and later in the drive Slaughter hit Harry Greene for a first down at the Lowndes 28.

Two plays later, Slaughter hit Ferrer in the middle of the end zone, but the Packers running back could not hold on to the ball.

Two plays later Slaughter was sacked on fourth-and-10, and the Martin Stadium jinx continues.

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