Everybody in Mitchell County and their brother showed up at Centennial Stadium in Camilla Friday night and a little more than half of those folks went home happy as the Eagles of Mitchell County High School knocked off arch-rival Pelham 36-28 in the “Backyard Brawl.” The term “standing room only” didn’t accurately describe scene because there was not enough room along the fences for people to stand.
The win gives the Eagles the Region 1-A championship and the top seed from the region in the upcoming playoffs. While most other classifications in Georgia already know when and where they play next, Class A is still waiting on the power rankings to determine who and where the teams play. Both Mitchell County and Pelham will be in the playoffs, and both could still earn a first-round bye.
The Eagles capitalized on several Pelham mistakes including turnovers and penalties, and on several occasions, turned those mistakes into points. None of those mistakes were more deadly for the Hornets than the two kickoffs in the fourth quarter where the Eagles recovered the ball after scoring. Mitchell County senior Earl Waters recovered the first one after Pelham fumbled the kick right after the Eagles took a 30-28 lead.
After Williams recovered the ball, the Eagles promptly went in for another touchdown and put the score up to 36-28. Pelham still had time to comeback, but the Hornets couldn’t handle another James Thomas kick and the Eagles recovered again.
The Eagles had built an 18-14 lead at halftime by taking advantage of Pelham mistakes. The Eagles had picked off two passes and looked like they would dominate the game.
But Pelham showed up strong to begin the second half. The Hornets took the second half kick-off and scored in just six plays, thanks to two big runs by senior Darrell Starling. The touchdown put the Hornets ahead and after stopping the Eagles looked to move down the field again. However, Mitchell County junior defensive back Xavier Williams picked off another pass and two plays later, Eagles’ quarterback Quantavious Hunter threw a pass to Rodney Jones. The ball was tipped at the goal line by the defensive back, but it went right to Jones in the end zone for the score. That put the Eagles ahead 24-21.
The Hornets took advantage of the next big mistake. Pelham recovered a fumble late in the third quarter and took over at the 45 and on the second play, quarterback Kendrick Patterson raced 45 yards through the Mitchell County defense for the score. That gave the Hornets the lead 28-24.
In the fourth quarter the Eagles regained the lead on a 72-yard drive led by James Thomas in the quarterback spot. Xavier Williams, the defensive back who previous intercepted the pass, changed hats and busted through the Hornet defense for big yards on the drive. De’Shaun Sherman scored for the Eagles on an eight-yard run to put the Eagles ahead for good.
The regular season ends with both teams owning an overall record of 9-1. Mitchell County was perfect in the region with a 9-0 record and Pelham takes second with an 8-1 region record. The top 24 teams in the Class A power rankings will make the playoffs, so fellow region foe Terrell County should be in that field and Chattahoochee County might eek in there as well.
In other area games:
Hardaway 7 Westover 3
A season that began with so much promise and a 6-2 record, ended in disappointment for the Westover Patriots Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium as Hardaway knocked Westover out of the playoffs, winning 7-3.
The game was scoreless until Westover’s Collins Giovingo kicked a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to put the Patriots ahead 3-0. Hardaway responded with a 75-yard drive against the Patriot defense and put the ball into the end zone for the only touchdown of the game.
Carver-Columbus, Cairo, Hardaway and Americus-Sumter are the four teams from Region 1-AAAA that will be in the state playoffs.
Southwest Georgia 36 Terrell Academy 28
The Southwest Georgia Academy Warriors scored two fourth quarter touchdowns and held off the Terrell Academy Eagles 36-28 to win the Region 3-AA championship in the Georgia Independent School Association.
After Terrell Academy’s Que Wright scored his second 15-yard touchdown run of the night in the third quarter, the Eagles went ahead 21-14. The Warriors answered with an 18-yard run by Tylek Marshall to close the gap to 21-20 but the two-point conversion failed.
The Eagles will host Robert Toombs Christian in the first round of the state playoffs Friday night in Dawson.
Valwood 10 Deerfield-Windsor 7
The Deerfield-Windsor Knights (5-5) fell to Valwood (8-2) Friday night in Albany when the Valiants scored a fourth quarter touchdown to take the win and the top spot in Region 3-AAA in the GISA.
The Knights had led 7-3 since the quarter until the late touchdown. Deerfield-Windsor will take the #4 spot in the region heading into the playoffs.
Southland Academy beat Tiftarea to take the second spot in the region and Tiftarea is third.