Stephens County opened Region 8-AAAA play by squeezing out a 14-13 win over North Hall on a damp, rainy Friday night at The Brickyard.
On Stephens County’s (3-1, 1-0 region) first drive, junior running back Tyreik Cunningham carried for the first 10 plays, gaining 50 of his 74 yards. The possession was capped off by an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Hassan Brown to put the Indians up 7-0.
In the first half, North Hall’s offense had back-to-back drives that ended within the Indians’ 5-yard line. The first ended in a missed field goal, the other in a forced fumble and a 99-yard return for a touchdown by Stephens to make it 14-0.
On the next drive, North Hall (1-3, 0-1) struck back with a 31-yard reception by tight end Jake Meeler and a 30-yard run by senior Colby Miller to bring the Trojans back into a one-possession game.
Despite the victory, Stephens County had a difficult time moving the ball. North Hall outgained the Indians 352-117 in total offense.
“Bottom line, I called a bad game,” Stephens coach Frank Barden said. “I called a game inside the tackles, and we didn’t get many first downs.”
Six of the Indians’ seven possessions resulted in punts. Of those, five were three-and-outs.
“Thankfully, our defense played well, and they were the difference in the game,” Barden said.
The Indians’ defense forced three fumbles, and North Hall fumbled the snap on the point after touchdown after an 80-yard receiving touchdown by Sam Jackson to keep Stephens County ahead 14-13.
Down 14-13 with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter, North Hall was in a fourth-and-21 situation at the 43-yard line. The Trojans attempted a 60-yard field goal that bounced just short of the goal line, leading to a race between an offensive lineman from North Hall and a corner from Stephens County. The Stephens player came close to touching the live ball before he recovered, and was tackled in the end zone.
The referees ruled the Stephens player did not touch the ball and called a touchback. Otherwise, the play would have been a safety, which would have put the Trojans up 15-14 with a minute left in the game.
North Hall heads to North Oconee, while Stephens County faces Monroe Area on their Oct. 2 matchups.