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Late TD lifts Lumpkin over West Hall, 23-22

Indians rally for 13 points in fourth quarter to nip Spartans

POSTED: October 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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DAHLONEGA — The relationship between Lumpkin County quarterback Chris Guthrie and his brother and teammate Taylor got stronger with just one play.

Chris Guthrie connected with Taylor for a 9-yard touchdown with 7.5 seconds left in the game to defeat West Hall 23-22 on Friday night in Dahlonega.

“We’ve grown up throwing the ball to each other in the backyard for years,” Chris Guthrie said. “Tonight it paid off.”

Guthrie entered the game during Lumpkin County’s final drive after starting quarterback Daniel Abercrombie left with an injury. In his lone drive, he was 5-for-7 passing for 35 yards and the game-winning touchdown in a fourth quarter that saw West Hall (4-4, 1-2 Region 7B-AAA) get out of its own territory only once.

“I was proud of our players,” Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones said. “They did a good job of not panicking when we were down.”

The transition from their performance between the first half and second half was relevant, as the Indians struggled to keep West Hall quarterback Shunquez Stephens from completing deep passes.

He finished the night 26-for-42 passing for 335 yards and two touchdowns, but was unable to lead his team into the end zone in the second half.

“It shows how hard we’ve worked,” junior linebacker Jake McClure said. “We were down 22-10 at halftime and it looked like we were done, but we persevered, and we won it.”

Meanwhile, the Indians (2-1, 3-3 Region 7A-AAA) stuck primarily to running the ball, but were efficient when passing. Aside from three interceptions in a scoreless third quarter, they were 13-for-19 passing for 131 yards.

Lumpkin County had the initial lead in the game when kicker Ben Ayres hit a 31-yard field goal on the Indians’ first drive in the first quarter.

West Hall followed with a long drive that spanned 70 yards and three first downs, capped off with a Shunquez Stephens’ one-yard dive into the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Spartans a 6-3 lead after a failed extra-point attempt.

The Spartans’ defense cushioned the team’s lead on the next drive when Abercrombie dropped a snap on the Indians’ 14 yard-line. The ball rolled into the endzone where West Hall linebacker Ishmail Nuckles chased it down for the safety, giving the Spartans an 8-3 lead late in the first quarter.

The West Hall passing game came alive in the second quarter, with an opening drive that had five receptions but was stopped short on Lumpkin County’s 16-yard line.

But the Spartans’ offense was given a second chance when defensive tackle J.T. Reed intercepted Abercombie’s pass on the Indians’ 30-yard line.

Four plays later, West Hall was in the end zone again when Stephens connected with Terrell Penland for a three-yard touchdown and a 15-3 lead late in the second quarter.

Lumpkin County countered on the very next drive when freshman Ian McIntosh broke a 71-yard touchdown run, cutting West Hall’s lead to five at halftime.

While The Spartans’ offense opened the second half sluggish and was forced to punt on the first three drives, the defense stepped up and secured two interceptions by Marquise Stephens and Travis Clements.

The Indians put together a three-first down drive at the end of the third quarter which ended with Abercrombie’s 1-yard touchdown, shortening West Hall’s lead to five.

After a Spartan turnover, the Indians had short time to put together a game-winning drive. Beginning at their own 19, they marched up the field before Abercrombie was injured with a minute left to play.

Backup quarterback Chris Guthrie entered the game with Lumpkin County on its own 38 and opened with Marquise Stephens’ interception that was called back due to pass interference.

The penalty gave the Indians a new set of downs, and Guthrie led the Lumpkin County offense up the field. He connected with Austin Gilreath on three straight plays, then sealed the victory with the pass to his brother to give the Indians the one-point win.

Lumpkin County plays host to White County next Friday. West Hall is off next week, followed by a home game against East Hall on Oct. 24



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