MOULTRIE – The Colquitt County 9th-grade football team lost to Lowndes 28-13 on the road last week while playing without starting quarterback I’Marius Bussey.
But with Bussey in the backfield, Antwon Daniels getting his first start at linebacker and A’marius Pace doing what he does best, the freshmen Packers got even with the Vikings Thursday, winning 19-12 at the high school.
Bussey got the Packers on the board quickly, throwing a 59-yard touchdown pass to JaRhyan Wallace on the third play of the game. Rene Miranda punched the extra point through.
The Vikings immediately launched an 18-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run with 7:37 left before the half.
The extra-point attempt was wide right, so Packers held a one-point advantage at the half.
Colquitt had opportunities to score in the final two minutes of the first half but dropped a potential touchdown pass, were called for a block in the back that negated an apparent 75-yard punt return for a score by Pace and, finally, threw an interception at the goal line with 4.6 seconds before the horn.
And the Vikings appeared to make the Packers pay for the missed chances, scoring on a 61-yard run right up the middle on the third play of the second half.
Again, the Vikings were unable to convert when Colquitt sacked the Lowndes quarterback on a 2-point attempt.
The 12-7 Lowndes lead did not last long.
After the Packers took over on their own 45 after the kickoff return, Pace bolted 40 yards on the first play and Colquitt was in business at the Lowndes 15.
Pace carried three more times, and the last one resulted in a touchdown from two yards out.
The kick was blocked but Colquitt was up 13-12.
Pace extended the lead the next time he touched the ball.
After the Colquitt defense forced Lowndes to punt from its 33, Pace fielded the ball at his 33 and took it the distance.
A 2-point conversion pass failed, but Pace’s second touchdown of the game gave the Packers the 19-12 lead with 4:52 left in the third quarter.
Lowndes mounted one last drive, moving from its 27 to the Packers 48, but threw an incompletion on fourth down with 6:05 left in the game.
Behind a dominating performance by its big offensive line, Colquitt then drove to the Lowndes 5 before turning the ball over on downs with 23 seconds remaining.
“Those guys really have a chance to be special,” 9th-grade coach Kirk Woodall said of his offensive line.
Daniels, who was in on several key tackles in the game, sealed the victory with a leaping interception with 14 ticks remaining.
The Packers defense was led by Daniels, Daveon Hunt and Michael Flournoy.
In addition to the two long punt returns, Pace carried 15 times from scrimmage for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Bussie completed 4-of-6 passes for 99 yards and the touchdown toss to Wallace. Bussie also rushed five times for 38 yards.
The victory raises the ninth-grade team’s record to 2-1. Colquitt opened the season with a 42-26 win over Valdosta.
The heat made preparations difficult this week, Woodall said, but credited the varsity staff with making sure his players got some time in the indoor facility.
Woodall credited his own staff with getting the team ready to play this week.
“They do an excellent job with these boys,” he said.
The staff includes Blair Lampkin, Lee Caquelard, Marcus Rice, Cory Harper, Danny Blaylock, Dave Windon and Tildon Blaylock.
The 9th-graders will be back at home at 4:30 p.m. next Thursday to play the Dougherty junior varsity.