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Vikings spike Spartans in opener, 47-14

Two blocked punts for TDs spark East Hall to season-opening rout of West Hall

POSTED: August 27, 2011 12:16 a.m.

The game was over before the East Hall offense ever touched the field.

After the West Hall Spartans' opening drive stalled, the Vikings blocked the punt from the 7-yard line. Vikings sophomore Dre Brawner covered the ball in the end zone and gave them a lead they would never relinquish. East Hall defeated West Hall at East Hall Stadium 47-14 in both teams' first game of the regular season on Friday.

The Vikings (1-0, 0-0 8-AA North) recovered another blocked punt in the end zone and returned an interception for a touchdown, both in the first quarter. Junior Schqwon Tanner recovered the second blocked punt, and sophomore Isaac Mize was credited with the interception.

The interception came on a dropped pass on a fourth down attempt inside East Hall territory.
Vikings head coach Bryan Gray said that he was extremely happy with the way his defense and special teams performed early in the game.

"We take pride in our special teams," Gray said. "The interception was just a nice lucky fluke, but the kid jumped on it and ran it back. That was nice. But, we do take great pride in our special teams, and we were happy it paid off."

With a 21-0 lead, the Vikings offense went to work in the second quarter and put the game out of reach.

Running backs Jamond Witt and Austin Mahaffey led the East Hall offense. Witt totaled 123 yards and two touchdowns on the ground; Mahaffey finished with 79 rushing yards and a 24-yard touchdown reception.

Offensive tackle C.J. White helped open the holes for the two running backs on offense. He said that he was proud of the way he and the rest of line performed for the Vikings in the game.

"We got some good linemen," White said. "Everyone believes in one another. We got a lot of heart. We're like a family, one unit. I mean, West Hall — they're a great team, so we're just happy to get this win."

Cameron Davis, a first-year starter at quarterback, threw the ball only three times, connecting on two passes, one of which was a 24-yarder to running back Austin Mahaffey.

And while the offense showed some successful flashes in limited action, Gray said that he sees a lot of room for his offense to grow.

"We overcome some of the turnover problems we've had in the past," Gray said. "Our defense played well, but I'd still like to see a little more out of our offense. They did have limited reps as it was."

Neither West Hall's offense nor defense could find footing for most of the game. Receivers dropped a number of passes, leading to just one completed pass for quarterback Chandler Newton.

Spartans (0-1, 0-0 8-AAA South) coach Mike Newton said that he was very disappointed his team played, particularly concerning the dropped passes and special teams.

"Very disappointed," Newton said. "I'm very disappointed in our special teams. We weren't able to get that part of it done. We'll take care of that Monday. We gave them an easy 21 points, had a tipped ball for an interception return. Give East Hall credit; they're a much improved football team, but we just got in the hole quick.

"And when you drop passes, it's just a lack of concentration. We'll go back on Monday and work on that."

The Spartans did score two touchdowns in the closing minutes, down 47-0.

Running back Anthony Strickland ran the ball in from the 3-yard line for the Spartans' first score with 3:34 left in the game. He finished with 73 yards on the ground.

West Hall scored again when junior defensive back Isaiah Murphy returned a 37-yard fumble for a touchdown on East Hall's next possession.

"I saw a lot of good things," Newton said. "But there are still a lot of things that we need to improve on. We've still got nine weeks to go."

Its next test will come on Friday at home against Chestatee. East Hall will play at Johnson.



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