MOULTRIE – The Colquitt County ninth-grade football team had given up just one touchdown to Tift County in the first two quarters of its game against Tift County on Thursday at the high school.
But Packers coach Kirk Woodall reminded his defense during the break that it has a goal of coming up with three turnovers each game and he challenged the players to reach that milestone.
The Packers intercepted a Blue Devil pass on the first snap of the second half and forced and recovered a fumble the next time Tift County had the ball.
Colquitt recovered two more fumbles and picked off a pass in the fourth quarter smoothing the way to a 41-8 victory.
“The players were like they were still on the bye-week in the first half,” Woodall said. “But I was very proud of our second half effort.”
The freshmen Packers are now 3-0 and will be back on their home field again next Thursday to take on Camden County.
While the defense was limiting the number of Tift County snaps, the offense romped up and down the field.
Chad White carried 10 times for 131 yards and two scores and also caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Rogers.
Willie Almond did most of the second half damage on the ground, rushing for 108 yards on 11 carries and scoring twice.
Starting middle linebacker Jeremy Murray even got in on the offensive onslaught, scoring the Packers final touchdown on a 10-yard run.
It was a dominating performance on both sides of the line of scrimmage for a strong Colquitt County ninth-grade team.
The offensive backs had plenty of lanes in which to operate thanks to yeoman-like work from the players in front of them in the trenches.
The defensive front was stubborn and the linebacking corps - primarily Murray, Kenyon Solomon and Aaron Bell – was particularly stout.
The secondary, including Zay Williams, Jerron Blakely and Jumerr Pridgen, was stifling.
Colquitt received the opening kickoff and needed just four plays to score. The drive included runs of 11 and 48 yards by White, which set up White’s first touchdown from five yards out.
Derick Espinoza missed the extra point attempt, but he made the other five he attempted the rest of the game.
Colquitt went up 13-8 on the touchdown pass from Rogers to White with 2.1 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Packers fumbled the ball away twice in the first half and Tift County turned the second one into its only touchdown of the game.
After the 3-yard touchdown pass, the Blue Devils threw for the 2-point conversion as well.
Colquitt put the game out of reach quickly in the third quarter.
Pridgen intercepted a pass on Tift County’s first snap and six plays later, Almond scored from 10 yards out and Colquitt went up 20-8.
On the first play of its next possession, Tift fumbled the ball away again.
It took eight plays, but Colquitt scored on an 11-yard run by White to extend the lead to 27-8 with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
Tift lost another fumble on its first possession of the fourth quarter and Almond cashed it in with an 18-yard touchdown run.
The touchdown drive went 69 yards on four plays with Almond accounting for each one.
After the Packers recovered the short kick after Almond’s last touchdown, Murray closed out the 41-8 win with his 10-yard scoring run with 4:35 left.
And although they did not score again, the Packers did add to their takeaway total when Blakely intercepted a final Tift County pass in the end zone with 29 seconds remaining.