Seminole County players show their look of dismay during Friday night’s 51-7 drubbing by ELCA in the Elite 8 of Class A playoffs.
MCDONOUGH — After Seminole County receiver Javaris Virgin scored on a 60-yard reception as the final second ticked off at the end the third quarter, there was a silence over on the Eagles Landing Christian sideline.
No one was talking.
After all, it wasn’t as if Virgin’s touchdown meant anything to the outcome of the game because fourth-ranked ELCA (12-1) had it well in hand before the second half even began. Leading 35-0 at halftime, the Chargers eventually cruised to a 51-7 win against No. 5 Seminole County (11-2) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class A state playoffs.
Seminole County’s touchdown hurt the Chargers’ pride more than anything.
“We wanted to give up zero points,” ELCA defensive tackle Justin Thomason said.
“We wanted that goose egg,” Chargers linebacker Josh Shockley said. “It was a good throw and a good catch (by Seminole County). (But) we go into every game not wanting to give up a score.”
For nearly three quarters, the Chargers’ defense was perfect as they stopped Seminole County’s high-powered offense. Indians running back Chris Brown, who came into the game with 1,648 yards and 29 touchdowns, could only manage 68 yards against the Chargers, 43 coming in the second half when the game was well out of reach.
When ELCA wasn’t punishing and pounding the Seminole County offense, the Indians were partly their own worst enemy with five fumbles lost and an interception.
“It was a good old-fashion tail whipping,” Seminole County coach Alan Ingram said. “We just didn’t play well. With that many turnovers, you are not going to beat anybody. I’m disappointed that the real Seminole County team didn’t show up.”
Ingram was pondering if the outcome was affected by the team’s having to play a day after Thanksgiving or his team making a 231-mile trip for the game.
It probably didn’t matter the way the ELCA defense shut down Seminole County, which came into the game on an 11-game winning streak and averaging more than 40 points a game.
“Our defensive line played a heck of a game,” ELCA linebacker D.J. Curl said. “We put a lot of pressure on them.”
And it was quite obvious Seminole County couldn’t handle that pressure with six turnovers.
ELCA opened the game on offense, but turned the ball over on downs at the Indians’ 42 with 9:02 remaining.
Then on Seminole’s first play, disaster struck for the Indians in the form of a fumble. Chargers running back John Tatum, who finished with 52 yards on eight carries, then scored on a 10-yard run.
ELCA defensive lineman Andrew Williams would score on a 40-yard fumble return on the Indians’ ensuing drive.
Seminole was never able to recover.
“We came out on fire,” ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said. “We are playing real physical and hurting people with our defense.”
The Chargers scored on four of their six first-half possessions, then to add insult to injury for Seminole, ELCA started the second half by recovering a fumble on the kickoff, which also led to a score.
Keyante Green, arguably the top running back in all of Georgia — regardless of classification — led the charge with 74 yards rushing and a touchdown, while senior Joe Walker scored three touchdowns.
The only downside for ELCA, which will meet Region 5-A foe Landmark Christian next week at home in the semifinals, was giving up that lone touchdown. Through its first three playoff games, the Chargers have surrendered just 21 points.
“We are pretty ticked off about that touchdown,” Gess said with a smile. “We never want anyone to score on us. We are in playoff mode. Our goal is to win a state title.”