West Hall High defensive back Ashun Favorite intercepted four passes, the final coming in the last minute to preserve a 24-21 win against Troup in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament Thursday in LaGrange. With its first playoff win since 2000, West Hall moves on to face the Thomson and Americus-Sumter winner on Nov. 18.
In the final minute, Tigers’ quarterback Montez Crowe escaped the pocket and rolled out opposite of Favorite to look for the open man. And with no receivers in sight, he rerouted his course.
Just like the three other times before, Favorite was in the right place, at the right time.
“He came back and he just heaved it up and I was there to break on the ball and catch the interception,” said Favorite on the moment.
The big-time play came after the Tigers forced a turnover on downs on the Troup 20, and a 43-yard pass completion by Crowe put the Tigers’ on West Hall’s 20 with 1:35 to play. A defensive pass interference call extended the drive as well.
“He played lights out,” West Hall coach Tony Lotti said of Favorite. “For us to come down here on Thursday night, you know, and I don’t think anybody gave us a shot at winning this thing.”
Besides recording the game-winning takeaway, all of Favorite’s interceptions were crucial, according to Lotti. Whether it be the post or the go, a ball-hawking Favorite was there to snatch it away.
“I knew they were going deep, so I was just over the top,” Favorite added.
Lotti could hardly contain his excitement over the fact his team captured its first playoff win in 16 years.
“This is huge for us, to battle a lot of adversity, having to move up a classification, going on the road on a Thursday night, played an extremely talented team that was 8-2 and ranked in the state forever, and my kids just never quit,” Lotti said.
The Spartans overcame costly mistakes in the come-from-behind win on the road. Senior running back Tyrese Osborne led the backfield with 138 yards rushing and a touchdown. Starting quarterback Jacob Satterfield was 10-of-20 passing for 115 yards, also adding 31 yards and one score the ground as well.
Senior A.J. Favorite (82 yards receiving), twin brother of Ashun, was one more to come through in the clutch by scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the third.
“We did unbelievable. Our heart was there and we knew we could beat them,” Ashun Favorite said. “We just had to execute, and that’s what we did.”