2008-10-08 / School & Sports

SGA Warriors upset Tiftarea Panthers

by Paul Bridges

The SGA Warriors kicked off region play with a bang Friday night. The Warriors hosted the Tiftarea Panthers, the #1 ranked team in the state, in the GISA region 3AA opener for both teams. It was a great game full of big plays for both teams that in the end was settled by the foot of SGA senior kicker Chandler Ray. With just nine seconds left on the game clock, Ray booted a 29-yard field goal to give the Warriors a hard fought come-from-behind victory, 22-20.

SGA received the opening kickoff and put together an 11-play drive but came away without any points, turning the ball over on downs at the Tiftarea 34 yard line.

Tiftarea wasted no time in taking the lead. On the Panthers second play from scrimmage, the Panthers big play receiver, 6'5" Tay Cody, got behind the SGA secondary and hauled in a 60-yard touchdown reception to put them up 7-0 at the 6:38 mark of the first quarter.

SGA was forced to punt on their next possession, and Tiftarea took over and moved the ball into Warrior territory. The Tiftarea quarterback went back to pass and was drilled by a couple Warrior defenders and fumbled the football. SGA's defensive end Danny Doster was there to scoop up the ball and race 52 yards down the sideline for the touchdown. The Panthers blocked the extra point, but SGA had cut their lead to 7-6.

On Tiftarea's next possession, they scored on another big pass play this time from 55 yards out. The extra point was good, and the Panthers led 14-6.

They only held that lead for a few seconds. On the ensuing kickoff, Taylor Tabb received the kickoff and shot up the middle, found a crease and cut to the left and was gone, 95 yards for the touchdown. Ray added the extra point, making it a 14-13 game at the 3:25 mark of the second quarter.

SGA's defense stopped Tiftarea on their next possession forcing them to punt.

SGA put together another good drive but again turned the ball over on downs deep in Tiftarea territory, this time at the 18-yard line.

The Panthers tried to get another score just before half time by throwing up a jump ball to their big receiver in the end zone, but SGA senior Miles Lee out-fought Cody for the football and returned the interception to the 25-yard line to end the Panthers scoring threat. The SGA coaches put Lee manto man on Coty after his touchdown reception early in the game, and Lee did a great job defensively shutting the big receiver down.

The third quarter turned into a defensive struggle with both defenses stopping the opposing offense.

SGA took possession of the football at the 20-yard line at the 11:32 mark of the fourth quarter. Lee picked up a first down with a 10- yard run. Lee completed a 16-yard pass to Doster and another to Tabb for 10 yards to help the Warriors move the ball down to the Panther 25-yard line. Facing fourth down with eight yards to go, Lee threw a beautiful pass to Daniel Bayman who hauled it in for a touchdown to give SGA the lead. The Warriors' 2-point conversion attempt was stopped, but SGA had the lead, 19-14, at the 5:24 mark of the fourth quarter.

Tiftarea ran the ensuing kickoff back to the Warriors' 28-yard line. On fourth and goal from the 7-yard line, the Panthers completed a pass in the corner of the end zone to retake the lead. SGA's defense stopped their 2-point attempt, and the Panthers led 20-19 with 2:03 left in the game.

SGA took over on offense at the 22-yard line. Lee completed passes of 8-yards to Tabb and 13-yards to Bayman. After an incompletion, Lee hooked up with Tabb again for 16 more yards. After a penalty and with time running down, Lee ran a quarterback draw picking up 16 big yards to set up the winning field goal try. With 9 seconds left on the clock, Ray nailed the 29-yard field goal giving the Warriors the 22-20 victory.

Offensively Lee and Keaton Smith led the Warriors in rushing with 47 and 41 yards. Lee completed 10 of 19 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Bayman was the leading receiver with three catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.

The Warriors' offensive line played an outstanding football game on both sides of the ball. The Warrior defense played very physical and did a great job against a very good Tiftarea team.

It was a huge region win for the Warriors and makes this Friday's game in Macon against region foe Windsor Academy that much bigger. If the Warriors can pull off another upset, Windsor is the #2 ranked team in the state; SGA will be sitting squarely in the driver's seat for a possible region championship.

Return to top