LEESBURG — Somewhere around midfield, offensive lineman Parker Rogers gave quarterback Kyle Toole a handshake.
And a hug, for one final time in a Lee County High School football uniform.
On the same field where the Trojans had won so many football games during the past three seasons, the seniors played their last one as teammates.
“I just told him that I loved him and that I was going to miss him,” Rogers said with a somber look on his face.
Top-ranked Dacula stifled Lee County’s offense, hogged the ball and scored plenty of points Friday night in the quarterfinal round of the Georgia High School Association Class 6A playoffs. The end result was a 56-21 setback to the Falcons, who looked like world-beaters in a game that probably could have been even uglier had it not been for a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Dacula (13-0) gashed Lee County’s defensive front with a running attack that was hardly stopped. Then its defense harassed Toole and the Falcon secondary covered up the Trojan receivers, forcing Toole into making several poor decisions.
“Give credit to our offense,” Dacula coach Clint Jenkins said. “Those guys kept coming back again and again. Then we knew we had to slow them down. Against Lee County, that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Dacula ended Lee County’s 12-game postseason winning streak dating back to the 2017 season. In fact, the Trojans hadn’t tasted a defeat in the playoffs since the second round of 2016 against Mays at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta. Rogers and Toole were just freshmen on that team.
Lee County (11-2) answered Dacula’s first half scores and the game was tied at 14 until the Falcons took the lead for good on a 74-yard scamper from Kaleb Edwards. Dacula took a 28-14 lead into halftime.
Toole connected with James Hopson on a 35-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7 with 10:53 left in the second quarter.
But Dacula answered on its ensuing possession on a 77-yard scamper from Edwards to make it 14-7 before Lee’s Caleb McDowell turned a short pass into an 84-yard touchdown on a third-and-21 play late in the second quarter.
Dacula quarterback Jarrett Jenkins said he knew they had to keep their momentum going in the second half.
“We knew we couldn’t let up,” he said. “We had to keep our foot on the gas.”
On the Falcons’ opening possession of the third quarter, Edwards gashed the Lee County defensive front and rambled 61 yards for a score to make it 35-14 at the 10:52 mark.
Then after a defensive stop, Jenkins hit Christopher Scott on a 31-yard touchdown pass at the 8:35 mark as the Falcons took a commanding 42-14 advantage.
While Dacula fans celebrated, Lee fans were stunned.
A fumble that Lee County recovered in the end zone for a touchdown at the 6:24 mark of the third quarter gave the Trojans some brief momentum and cut the deficit to 42-21, but the Falcons answered less than a minute left to take a 49-21 lead.
Edwards added a 28-yard dash and the clincher at the 1:32 mark of the third quarter.
“We have a lot of respect for those guys,” Hopson said. “They are a very good football team. But this was the best year of my life playing with this team and the guys. It was a special thing we had going.”