DAHLONEGA — Coming off its second overtime win of the season last Friday night, Chestatee was looking to avoid a repeat of that close call.
The War Eagles (7-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAAA) picked up their seventh straight win on Friday night by defeating Lumpkin County, 49-17.
Chestatee running back AJ Sijiye rushed for a game-high 147 yards and two touchdowns. Quan Clark rushed for 146 yards and one touchdown, and Brandon Thompson rushed for 97 yards and one touchdown to lead Chestatee.
Chestatee quarterback Jordan Degraff was 7-for-11 throwing for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 33 yards.
The War Eagles’ offense picked up 500 yards rushing and a total 618 yards for the game.
The War Eagles defense helped the offense by forcing two fumbles and recording five sacks on the Indians’ (2-6, 2-3) offense.
“I felt like we played better tonight on defense,” Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. “We forced some turnovers, which our defense is very capable of doing, and our guys stepped it up.
“We give up the opening kickoff for a touchdown, put ourselves in a bind right out of the gate, but again, our guys respond.”
Lumpkin County quarterback Daniel McCrary passed for 45 yards and rushed for 25 yards.
The Indians’ special teams wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard when junior Jonathan Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. giving the Indians a quick 7-0 lead.
Then the Indians’ defense forced a War Eagles’ fumble and Lumpkin senior Bryan Roberts recovered. But the Indians couldn’t capitalize on the turnover.
Then, the War Eagles started rolling. Their first touchdown came on a fourth-and-6 play from their own 48-yard line. Degraff connected with William Fayson for a 52-yard score, tying the game at 7-7. This began their 28-0 scoring run.
On the War Eagles’ next drive, Thompson darted to a 66-yard touchdown score.
“I thought it was a good night. I mean we’re putting it together and it’s great to be a Chestatee War Eagle,” Thompson said.
Then, the War Eagles’ defense recovered two-straight Indians fumbles. They capitalized on the second fumble when Degraff hooked up with tight end Khalil Cantrell for an 18-yard touchdown with 5:45 left in the second quarter.
Sijiye finished off the scoring run with a 28-yard touchdown run.
“We started off slow, then realized in the second half that we were going to have to step it up, and play how Chestatee plays, do our best so that we can’t lose the game, but win the game for not only for the team, but for the glory of God,” Sijiye said.
The Indians answered with another kickoff return for a touchdown. Lumpkin sophomore Gunner Wood returned the kick 82 yards with 2:31 left in the quarter.
Degraff responded, scrambling on fourth-and-5 from the Indians’ 8-yard line to gain 6 yards and set up a first-and-goal. On the next play, Degraff rushed in for the 2-yard touchdown, giving the War Eagles a 36-14 lead at halftime.
Clark and Sijiye both scored the touchdowns for the War Eagles in the second half.
The Indians only managed a Chase Slocumb 22-yard field goal.
“Give Chestatee a lot of credit. They play very fast on both sides of the football,” Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones said. “They executed very cleanly. They outplayed us. I’m really proud of our kids. They played extremely hard, and they fought for four quarters.”
Next week, Chestatee meets Monroe Area for the Region 8-AAAA championship at home. Lumpkin County travels to Lanier.