Lee County's explosive running back Kenneth Hurley was burned teams all season, but he was bottled up Friday night on the ground for just 49 yards by TCC, although he did take a screen pass 56 yards for a score late in the game to make it close before Lee lost, 41-35 (email@example.com)
LEESBURG – Lee County ran Adam Choice out of his shoes to stop him, but even that wasn’t enough.
Choice ran for 200 yards on 25 carries, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and throwing for another, to help Thomas County Central hold off a resilient Trojans team, 41-35, in a battle for first in Region 1-AAAAA.
The Trojans cut a Thomas County Central lead that was once 34-14 in the fourth quarter to 34-28 on Kenneth Hurley’s 56-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Collier on a slip screen that energized Trojan Field.
But Choice broke loose on a 62-yard run on the next Yellow Jacket play from scrimmage, running out of a shoe at the 45-yard line before galloping to the Lee County 2 where he was pushed out.
“I hope so,” Choice said when asked he could have scored with two shoes on. “Either way, I got as much as I could out of it.”
Choice got his shoe back and handed off the next play to Tim Brown, who scored for a 41-28 TCC lead with 4:27 left.
“I knew it was going to be a hard fought game,” Choice said. “They’re a great team. I didn’t expect for them to lay down. They fought hard to the end (and) that’s would great teams do.”
Collier and the Trojans drove again and he scored on a 5-yard quarterback draw with 2:15 left down 41-35 with three timeouts.
The Trojans elected to kickoff and stop TCC (7-1, 3-0 Region 1-AAAAA), but couldn’t do it on 3rd-and-1 after Choice barreled his way for a first down to run out the clock.
“It was a great effort the second half,” Lee County head coach Dean Fabrizio said. “We just came up a little bit short.”
Collier threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-30 passing and also added 59 yards rushing and two scores on the ground. Andrew Stroud caught everything thrown his way for 115 yards on eight catches. Hurley finished with 49 yards on 11 carries and had 80 yards receiving.
Lee County outgained TCC 449-410 in a fourth-quarter shootout after a scoreless third quarter and a 28-14 Yellow Jackets’ lead at halftime.
Lee County, which had been outscored by TCC 125-57 the last two years, ran out behind the Harleys and opened the game with a 15-yard touchdown strike from Collier to freshman Devontae Seay, who finished with 80 receiving yards, to take an early 7-0 lead.
But the Yellow Jackets’ fired back with three straight scores on runs by Choice (7 yards), Deondre Cooksey (2 yards) and Shaq Coleman (9 yards) to take a 21-7 lead with 8:58 to play in the second quarter.
Lee (6-1, 1-1 Region 1-AAAAA) had plenty left, though, and used backup quarterback Matt Mears to spark a scoring drive that included four completions to Stroud for 70 yards on the drive. Collier capped it with a 2-yard run for a score to cut the TCC lead to 21-14 with 4:48 left in the first half.
“There was no doubt in our mind we could win,” said Stroud, who was clearly dejected afterward. He made a diving catch on a 30-yard pass from Mears at the Yellow Jackets’ two yard line that set up the Trojans’ second score worthy of Sportscenter’s Top 10.
Tim Brown gave the Yellow Jackets a two-score advantage at the break when Choice hit him on a wide-open wheel route down the sideline with 1:45 left before half. Choice completed 2-of-3 pass attempts for 80 yards.
“Adam Choice is a great player,” Fabrizio said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat. He did some great things.”
TCC’s veer option offense went for 331 yards on the ground, but the Trojan defense held it to less than 140 yards in the second half to mount a comeback. Coleman finished with 75 yards on 11 carries for the Yellow Jackets, who only need to beat Hardaway and Harris County to clinch the No. 1 seed from the region.
Lee County, now 1-20 all-time against TCC, goes to Harris County Friday and still has plenty of playoff aspirations after Friday's gutsy finish.