They came in evenly matched with identical records. But when it was over only the Worth County Rams were left with a fighting chance of making the playoffs.
Zytavious Anderson’s 100-plus rushing yards led the way for the Rams, who knocked off Albany High, 19-0, Friday night in Sylvester.
The Rams are now 3-5 on the season and 2-3 in their region.
While Anderson certainly deserves his due for the team’s win, the Rams’ defense may have come up even bigger, forcing several turnover-on-downs and four takeaways.
“Our kids played hard [Friday night],” Worth County head coach Jason Tone said. “They ran to the football, they bent but didn’t break, and even they gave up some big plays they wound up getting some turnovers.”
After throwing an interception on the third play of the game, the Rams got the ball back and went to work on the ground during their second series. Running right off tackle, Anderson darted his way into the end zone with a 24-yard touchdown run to put the first points on the board.
Two drives later Anderson nearly doubled his touchdown run, breaking off a 46-yard dash up the sidelines. After a 12-yard run from Quantavious Sweney gave the Rams a first-and-goal opportunity from the one-yard line, Anderson walked in for his second touchdown of the game late in the second quarter.
He rushed for 132 yards on 13 carries in just the first half.
The Indians (2-6, 1-4) put together a few good-looking drives with multiple first downs, but were never able to complete them, largely because of offensive miscues.
“The gameplan was in place and we moved the ball, but you cannot turn the ball over against a team like Worth,” Albany head coach Felton Williams said. “We knew they were going to be able to move the ball offensively, and we knew we had to score. If we could [have] capitalized on those long drives it’s a different ballgame.”
Hoping to extend the opening drive of the second half, Albany quarterback Malik Dungee dropped back on third-and-long only to miss his mark and have the ball intercepted by Todderick Jackson.
“My coaches always tell me to read my keys, so I read my keys and saw [an Albany receiver] coming across the middle so I broke on the ball and got the pick,” he said. “Our coaches [constantly] tell us to buy into their defensive schemes and that is what he did.”
On the ensuing drive, Sweney again got things going for the Rams, this time with a big 34-yard run that took the Rams into Albany territory. A few plays later Brandon Gibson ran in for a touchdown, scoring the game’s final points, 19-0.
From there Worth County’s defense did the rest by not allowing the Indians to manufacture any points.
“We had to get a win so we could get into the playoffs,” Jackson said. “Ever since we lost to Crisp we have been like we have to win [our] last three games so our mentality going forward is that we have to win all of them.”
His coach was more reticent to elaborate on the team’s possible, but challenging push for the playoffs.
“We put ourselves in this position, and right now all we care about is the next game,” Tone said. “We cannot control what anyone else does. All we can control is what we do, and that is come to practice every day and work hard to get better.”
For the Indians it’s back to the drawing board as they look to get a win next week against Crisp County, and build some confidence for next year.