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QB Driver leads SGA past Robert Toombs in 2011 opener

Southwest Georgia Academy senior quarterback Dillon Driver, left, escapes the pressure from Robert Toombs defender Jacob Holland during the first quarter Friday.

Southwest Georgia Academy senior quarterback Dillon Driver, left, escapes the pressure from Robert Toombs defender Jacob Holland during the first quarter Friday.

DAMASCUS -- For a few minutes Friday night, Dillon Driver saw his high school football career flashing through his eyes.

Twice during the season opener between Southwest Georgia Academy and Robert Toombs Christian Academy, the SGA senior quarterback dislocated his non-throwing shoulder. And twice he popped his shoulder back into place and stormed back onto the field.

With pain shooting through his left shoulder, Driver led the Warriors' offense to two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a 27-14 comeback victory in their 2011 season opener.

Driver, who threw for 146 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 41 yards and another score, stood on the field after the game with his left shoulder wrapped in ice, describing the pain he felt Friday night.

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It takes several Southwest Georgia Academy football players to bring down a Robert Toombs running back during Friday night's game in Damascus. (Photo by John Millikan)

"It was flashing through my mind that I wouldn't be able to play the rest of my senior year. It just scared me to death," he said. "I just popped it back in, and I had to play through it the rest of the game."

Driver wasn't the only SGA football player who truly became a Warrior on Friday night. The team overcame several injuries to key players in a game that went back and forth between a pair of hungry programs that kept trading momentum.

"It was a hard-fought game," SGA coach David Bell said. "It was almost like one of those first games that was like a boxing match."

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Southwest Georgia Academy captains, from left, Dillon Driver, Vann Harrell and Cody Evans walk out to midfield before Friday night's game against Robert Toombs. (Photo by John Millikan)

SGA threw the first punch in the form of an 85-yard touchdown pass from Driver to senior Kam Whitaker with 11:33 left in the second quarter. The pass jump-started a Warriors offense that had 0 total yards in the first quarter.

"They started cheating over there, and I saw the kid cheating inside," Bell said about the opening touchdown. "(Whitaker) was on a go route, and Dillon made a good throw."

However, two minutes later Robert Toombs struck back with a 45-yard touchdown run from freshman Ric Rogers, who ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Driver, who also played defense Friday when he wasn't on the sidelines popping his shoulder back into place, said the Crusaders' running game was, at times, tough to handle.

"We knew they had a good fullback who could knock us down, and to get him we had to saw him down and the linebackers had to make good tackles on him," Driver said. "He was tough to bring down -- I will give him credit for that."

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Southwest Georgia Academy captains, front to back, Dillon Driver, Vann Harrell and Cody Evans walk out to midfield before Friday night's game against Robert Toombs.

Robert Toombs rushed for 223 yards and threw for just 45, and Bell said a lot of that had to do with the size of the Crusaders' offensive line.

"They were way bigger than us. We were bending and bending and bending," Bell said. "After a while, we got a few stops. We had a hard time against them. They were big, and they outweighed us by 100 pounds (per player) up front."

While the Crusaders were handing the ball off nearly every time and trying to muscle their way into the end zone, SGA was spreading the field and giving their playmakers chances to catch the ball with room to run.

The Warriors took the lead five minutes before halftime when Driver scrambled 19 yards into the end zone. Robert Toombs coach Thomas Smith said he knew the danger that SGA's dual-threat quarterback posed.

"We knew going in that they had a great quarterback and were a very well-coached team," Smith said. "We knew they wouldn't beat themselves."

SGA held onto its 13-6 halftime lead all the way into the fourth quarter, until Rogers scored a four-yard rushing touchdown and converted a two-point conversion to give Robert Toombs a 14-13 advantage with 8:38 left in the game.

Driver, who sat out a series in the third quarter with his shoulder injury while freshman Clay Bell took a few snaps, said he was confident he could lead his team back to victory and avoid dropping to 0-1 for the second year in a row.

"I wasn't worried," Driver said. "I knew what my team could do, and I knew what I could do. I knew we had the fight in us to get back."

With 6:51 left in the game, Driver connected with junior Corey Smith on a 30-yard touchdown pass. That score -- and the ensuing two-point conversion on a direct snap to Whitaker -- gave SGA a 21-14 lead it wouldn't give back.

Robert Toombs' potential game-tying drive was stopped 30 yards short of the end zone, and the Warriors added an insurance touchdown with 1:49 left on the clock when Colby Still, who rushed for 100 yards on 10 carries, broke free for a 34-yard rushing touchdown.