War Eagles 48, Knights 7
Difference maker: Chestatee running back Tray Bryant rushed for one touchdown and forced a fumble on a sack that was returned 60 yards for a touchdown to close the first half.
Stat that matters: War Eagles’ defense recovered three fumbles, returning two for touchdowns and had one interception, while the special teams blocked a field goal and punt.
Turning point: Chestatee defensive back Justin Spears’ interception with 1:59 left in the first quarter led to the start of the War Eagles’ 48-0 scoring run.
Who’s next: Chestatee is at Walnut Grove. Johnson is home against Clarkston
The Chestatee War Eagles (4-1, 2-0 Region 8-AAAA) defeated the Johnson Knights (1-5) 48-7, Friday night at War Eagle Stadium.
After a slow start early in the first quarter, the War Eagles’ offense, defense and special teams picked up the pace for the last three quarters of the game.
The War Eagles’ offense was led by senior running back Zac Cheshire, who rushed for a game-high 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior running back Tray Bryant added another touchdown on the ground and caused a fumble with a sack for the War Eagles’ defense. The fumble was returned 60 yards for a touchdown by senior defensive linemen Khalil Cantrell.
The War Eagles’ defense recovered three fumbles, and returned a second one for a touchdown.
The Chestatee special teams had a blocked field goal and blocked punt.
“I thought in the first half our defense played excellent,” Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said.
“Anytime you can score on special teams and score on defense it’s a good night. Our offense started a little sluggish, but ended up rolling in the second quarter. I think it’s because of the momentum that we got from our special teams and our defense. It’s a good team victory. No one got hurt. Everybody got to play. It’s a good night to be a War Eagle.”
The first quarter saw no scoring from either offense. However, the War Eagles’ special teams made their first big play to keep the score 0-0, blocking the Knights’ 42-yard field goal attempt.
With 1:59 left in the quarter, senior defensive back Justin Spears intercepted a Johnson pass, returning it 50 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back by a penalty.
It thus fell to the offense to turn the turnover into points. Bryant made sure that happened, finding the end zone from 1 yard out with 11:44 left in the second quarter to give the Chestatee a 7-0 lead.
Johnson’s next possession ended when senior defensive linemen Cody Humphries turned a fumble into seven points, scooping and scoring on the 27-yard return to give the War Eagles a 14-0 lead.
On Chestatee’s next possession, Cheshire scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 17-yard run.
“It was a good game,” Cheshire said. “We played really strong defense. The offense, we were getting really good pushes. Not many big plays, but we were slowly inching it towards the (end zone). Every time we score we get motivation. And once again, we were nice and physical and we just inch our way down every time.”
After the War Eagles’ special teams blocked a Johnson punt, Cheshire scored on a 2-yard run to give Chestatee a 28-0 lead.
Then with time running down to close out the first half, the War Eagles’ defense made one last statement as Bryant’s sack fumble was returned by Cantrell for a 35-0 lead.
“We just went out did what we were coached to do,” Bryant said. “The line made good holes for the running backs. The defense did everything they were coached to do, and did it perfect.”
Chestatee senior running back Blake Buffington and freshmen Nick Beard both rushed for touchdowns in the third quarter.
Johnson was led by junior running back Jesse Griggs, who rushed for 73 yards. Junior Kavin Hopkins added 67 yards on the ground and one touchdown.
Chestatee is at Walnut Grove next week, while Johnson is home against Clarkston.