Seminole County freshman RB Thomas Aiken had a big night in the Indians' GHSA Class A Elite 8 game Friday against Dooly County with 212 rushing yards, but he had two big fumbles that proved costly in the end.
DONALSONVILLE --- Seminole County’s dream season ran into Dooly County quarterback A.J. Smith, who was nothing but a nightmare for the Indians.
Smith threw for 255 yards and four touchdowns and led the visiting Bobcats to a come-from-behind, 34-28 victory in the GHSA Class A state quarterfinal game on Friday night, advancing the Bobcats to the semifinals to play No. 1 seed Lincoln County.
“We really had the game in our hands, but the calls weren’t going our way (Friday) night and things like that happen in life,” Seminole senior Daquan Hamlet said. “It was an incredible season. You just have to look forward and wish luck to next year’s team.”
It would have been the ninth win in a row for the Indians and the furthest the team had gone in the history of the program --- and for much of the night it looked like Seminole would keep its remarkable season alive.
However, No. 5 Dooly County (10-2) outscored No. 4 Seminole (9-3) 27-7 in the final two-and-a-half quarters and got the go-ahead touchdown with 9:04 left in the game to complete the upset.
It marked the end of a season in Donalsonville that nobody saw coming --- not after the Indians lost 18 starters from last year’s team and entered 2012 as one of the most inexperienced teams in Region 1-A, which they ended up winning with a perfect 6-0 record.
“We did what nobody expected us to,” Hamlet said. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know what to do. We were out there just running around for the ball, but the coaches taught us this season. It was fun learning as a team and going from nothing into the Elite 8. It’s really something to be proud of.”
The Indians were a play --- and likely an uncalled penalty or two --- from taking their dream season one step further.
After Dooly took a 34-28 lead with 9:04 remaining, the Indians had two drives to try to put together a game-winning TD.
The first drive stalled at the Dooly County 35-yard line when Seminole County turned the ball over on downs, but the Indians had one more crack at the end zone after a Bobcats punt was downed at midfield with three minutes to go.
The Indians marched all the way to 25-yard line --- overcoming a costly holding penalty along the way --- but three Jakhari Martin passes came up incomplete in the final 15 seconds, including a final throw to Shavon Wiggins in the end zone that was broken up by a Dooly County defender, bringing calls for pass interference from Seminole County’s sideline and bleachers.
It was just one of several calls that Seminole County coach Alan Ingram thought didn’t go his way.
“Our kids played hard, but we just didn’t get any officiating,” Ingram said. “Our kids fought. They did what they are supposed to do. They learned how to play the game. They figured out that it’s not an individual sport and that it’s all about the team. They played the game like it’s supposed to be played.”
Freshman running back Thomas Aiken led the Indians with 212 rushing yards and a TD on 26 carries, while Hamlet had two rushing TDs and 99 yards and Martin finished with one rushing TD and 80 yards.
The Indians rushed for 392 yards, compared to just 53 yards on the ground for Dooly County.
The Bobcats did their damage in the air.
Smith completed 12-of-26 passes, and nine of those went for more than 20 yards. Dooly County receivers Cortney Clark (128 yards), Trevoski Lundy (40 yards) and Kris Lundy (117 yards) all had four catches, and hauled in most of their yards on one-on-one go routes down the sidelines.
“They have too many athletes for us to cover in man,” Ingram said. “He’s got a great arm, and we didn’t get too much pressure on him.”
Dooly County capitalized on a Hamlet fumble on Seminole County’s second offensive play from scrimmage. The Bobcats put the game’s first points on the board on the ensuing play on a 23-yard pass from Smith to Clark, who made an over-the-shoulder the catch in the corner of the end zone.
The Indians answered with a trio of rushing touchdowns from Martin, Aiken and Hamlet, who combined for 223 rushing yards in the first half.
Seminole’s opening TD was a 38-yard run from Martin, who kept it on an option play and sprinted down the Indians’ sideline into the end zone. Aiken closed the first quarter with a 53-yard TD after breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and outrunning the rest of the Bobcat defenders to the goal line, and Hamlet punched in a 14-yard score on the opening drive of the second quarter.
Dooly County closed the first half with two touchdowns in the final two minutes --- a 1-yard rush from Smith with 1:37 left and a 31-yard pass from Smith to Kris Lundy with six seconds remaining.
The second half started out as just as much of a shootout as the first 24 minutes.
The Indians opened the third quarter with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard rushing TD from Hamlet to take a 28-20 lead, but Dooly marched down the field on its first second-half possession and scored on a 27-yard pass from Smith to Clark.
Dooly then retook the lead with 9:04 left on a 24-yard TD pass from Smith to Kris Lundy.