MOULTRIE— The Colquitt County seventh-grade football team got two sparkling touchdown passes from quarterback Cohen Lawson to receiver Jonathan Armstrong to lead the young Packers to a 22-12 first-round playoff victory over North Lowndes on Thursday on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium.
The seventh-graders will take a 6-0 record into the conference championship game against Tift County, which will be played at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, also in the Hawg Pen.
Colquitt had defeated North Lowndes – the team made up of players from Hahira and Pine Grove middle schools – 12-6 during the regular season and Thursday’s game was close until Packers extended a 16-12 lead with a 94-yard touchdown pass from Cohen to Armstrong with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
Trailing 22-12, the Vikings tried to pull closer midway through the fourth quarter, but an interception by Gavin Henderson with 4:17 remaining snuffed out their last gasp.
“This is a great group of boys,” coach Andy Chapura said. “If they progress like we think they can progress, they are going to be a special group.
“They have a chance to continue that Packer tradition that we have had for years.”
After falling on the opening kickoff at midfield, Colquitt had to drive just 50 yards to its first score.
Lovorice Blyther got the Packers on the right foot on the first offensive snap darting for 22 yards.
Seven plays later, Lawson scored from a yard out and then pitched a 2-point conversion pass to Tristan Walker to put the Packers up 8-0 with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter.
North Lowndes turned the ball over on downs at its own 45 on its first possession and Colquitt took advantage.
The Packers got a big first down when Lawson ran for 15 yards on a fourth-and-7 to the Vikings 23.
Two plays later, Lawson lofted a pass to the end zone that appear to be out of Armstrong’s reach.
But while fully extended, he plucked the ball out of the air for Colquitt’s second score.
“He’s been doing that for us all year,” Chapura said. “Jonathan will go get it.”
Lawson again threw to Walker for the conversion points and Colquitt led 16-0 with 6:45 left in the half.
North Lowndes then drove 70 yards in nine plays to score its first touchdown on a 2-yard run.
The conversion run failed, but the Packers lead had been whittled to 16-6.
The Vikings then caught a break when the kickoff hit a Colquitt County up man and bounced straight back to a waiting North Lowndes player.
North Lowndes was called for holding on it first play, but then completed a 57-yard pass to the Packers 3 and scored three plays later.
Again the conversion attempt failed, but the Vikings were within four at 16-12.
Lowndes grinded out a pair of first downs on it first possession of the second half before throwing a fourth-down incompletion at the Colquitt 8 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
The next two minutes featured three crucial plays in what was then a close affair.
The Packers managed a first down on their 21, but then fumbled the ball away and the Vikings took over on the Packers 14.
But Lowndes, too, fumbled on the next play and Colquitt County’s Quinahri Thornton came up with the ball on the Packers 6.
On the first play, Lawson threw a short turn-in to Armstrong, who, instead of continuing across the field, turned back to the Vikings sideline and streaked 94 yards for the touchdown that put the game out of reach.
The Packers rolled up 240 yards of offense including 143 through the air.
Lawson competed 4-of-5 passes and did not throw an interception.
Armstrong caught two passes for 117 and two scores.
Henderson had the other two pass receptions for 26 yards.
The Packers rushed for 97 yards on 19 carries.
Blyther ran for 40 yards on four carries. Lawson had 36 on five attempts.