MOULTRIE - Those who left Mack Tharpe Stadium at 11:20 p.m. Friday certainly got their money's worth.

They saw a hard-hitting game that featured Colquitt County's first brush with the new Georgia High School Association overtime format, a kickoff return for a touchdown, a field goal by a straight-on kicker, 52 forward passes (42 from Dougherty quarterback Ronnye Nelson) and, more importantly for those sitting in the west stands, a 20-17 victory by a surprisingly resilient Packers team that rallied from deficits of 14 points in the first quarter and three points in overtime.

The Packers, whose roster had already gone through a serious culling by injury and illness, were forced to play without two more players who had started two weeks ago against Thomas County Central.

And then, they gave up a 61-yard, 13-play drive right out of the box, throw their first interception of the season and find themselves in a 14-0 fix just 7 1/2 minutes into the fray.

But somehow, just as they did over in Bainbridge in the season-opener, the Packers held on, held out and finally figured out a way to win.

Packers coach Mike Singletary has not been the life of the party since broken ankles, car crashes, infections, illnesses and other travails appeared to have conspired to negate the hours of toil and preparation for the season.

But he found plenty to be pleased about in the victory over Bainbridge, a victory in which the Packers scored in the second half to take the lead then used a goal-line stand to sign off on it.

Colquitt was no match for Thomas County Central, but 39 minutes slugged it out with a team that looks like 15-0 waiting to happen.

Then on Friday, when Dougherty kicked off after scoring its second touchdown of the first quarter and making the Colquitt fans hoping for the sounds of a lightning detector, the evening turned in the space of 13 seconds.

Kelvin Watts, a muscular sophomore fullback who had not especially distinguished himself carrying the football from scrimmage in the first two games, gathered in a kick that many would rather have seen Sherard Reynolds take.

But Watts broke through the first wave of tacklers and found an opening. Although there was plenty of uncluttered Rick Gehle-tended turf in front of him, there were at least two Trojans who appeared to have the proper angle to bring Watts down long before he threatened the goal line.

The Trojans gained on the short-striding, but grimly pumping Watts, but never were able to catch him.

In the end zone, 77 yards and 13 seconds later, the Packers appropriately celebrated, then packed the lunch bucket and went back to work.

Nelson threw and threw and threw, but his receivers could not handle some and when they did latch on, the Packers did not let them run far.

Late in the half, the Trojan sophomore passer led a 15-play foray that took Dougherty to a second-and-goal at the Colquitt 4 with 5 and a fraction seconds left.

Nelson then launched his 24th pass of the first half ill-advisedly, with Packers all around, clutching and yanking at him. The aerial fluttered, came up short and Colquitt's Dejuan Johnson intercepted near the goal line.

It appeared momentarily that he might turn in a Watts-like return of his own before the Trojans pulled him down near midfield and then skulked to their dressing quarters.

In the second half, the Packers exchanged blows with the Trojans, who were led on defense by a fearsome pair of sophomore linebackers named Merrell Jones, who wore No. 46, and Quinton Nelson, No. 44.

The Packers finally evened up the scoreboard tally with just over nine minutes left in what would become known as regulation.

Quarterback Sam Heath mined a fourth-and-millimeters for a first down at the Packers 45, before Danny Butts broke loose for 24 yards to the Dougherty 30.

Tracy Brown then lit off around left end, held on to the ball, got some cover from Reynolds, and sped to the end zone for his first varsity touchdown.

Newly confident Marshall Faircloth knocked home the extra point and the Packers had pulled even.

Dougherty faced a fourth-and-1 on its next possession right at midfield, but Anterrio McIntyre hit him and Donald Jackson mugged him and tugged him down short of the first down.

Colquitt punted and fumbled away its next two possessions, but a defense refused to be swayed from executing Jimmy Francis's exhortations.

Curtis Jackson stopped one Dougherty drive with fumble recovery with 2:07 left and Johnson, who, what seemed like hours earlier, had stopped a Trojan drive at the end of the first half, ended the visitors final regulation possession when he put a large hit on receiver Adolphus Dawson.

The opposing coaches had agreed before the game to let overtime be the deciding factor should it remain tied after 48 minutes.

Being a non-region game, overtime was not required. But once the Packers figured out the new-fangled way of doing it, they did it right.

Dougherty took the ball at the Packers 15 and immediately were penalized five yards. Nelson threw for 10 yards on first down, but because of the penalty, it was not enough for a fresh four-down start.

A second-down pass was dropped and a third down was juggled on the sideline and was ruled incomplete.

The Packers had rose up once again the Dougherty sent out little sophomore kicker Haywood Foggy, who put the Trojans ahead the old-fashioned way, with a straight-on boot through the uprights to put the Trojans back on top.

Colquitt then had its shot and needed at least three points for the overtime to continue.

Three straight Butts runs gained only nine yards and Colquitt faced a decision: send out Faircloth for a potential tying field goal or try to pick up a yard and first down?

The angle would have been problematic for a sophomore kicker in just his third varsity game.

The Packers chose to call on Butts for the 19th time and the senior who languished behind Knighton, Brinson and Ferrer last year got the team's biggest five yards of the season, scrapping to a first down at the one.

Not one to do things the easy way, the Packers immediately wounded themselves with a five-yard penalty.

But that was quickly forgotten when Reynolds, with the Trojans perhaps looking again for Butts, took the handoff went to his left, found a glimpse of green amid the white and black shirts, and found his way to the checkered land.

Beating Dougherty is nothing new - Colquitt has done it 14 times in a row now - but this one was especially gratifying.

Forget Central. Bring on Cairo, who was idling on Friday with its 1-2 record.

The Syrupmakers have lost to Cook 14-6, beat stumbling Thomasville and lost to Early County 21-13.

Cairo will visit on Friday.

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