Indians 28, War Eagles 0
Difference maker: Chaz Thornton needed only 10 carries to rack up 244 yards, scoring on runs of 64, 80 and 63.
Stat that matters: Stephens County ran only 13 plays in the first half, but scored 21 points, thanks to big plays from Thornton and a 58-yard touchdown pass from Dionte Mayfield to T'omas Colbert.
Turning point: Down 21-0, Chestatee recovered a surprise onside kick to open the second half, but couldn't capitalize, turning the ball over on downs at the Stephens County 28. Three plays later, Thornton burst through the line and ran away from the War Eagle defense for a dagger 63-yard touchdown.
Who's next: Chestatee looks to end its slide at Franklin County. Stephens County hosts White County.
Chaz Thornton ran for 244 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries, leading Stephens County to an impressive 28-0 subregion win over short-handed Chestatee on Friday at War Eagles Field.
Thornton, a touted junior recruit, scored on runs of 64, 80 and 63 yards before sitting most of the third and fourth quarters. He’ll be at Georgia Tech for an unofficial visit for Saturday’s game against Maryland.
It was the third straight loss for the War Eagles, who were without quarterback Jordan Degraff and a handful of other key players due to injuries.
Degraff injured his right ankle in the first quarter of last week’s loss to North Hall. The junior, who has starred this season with seven rushing and seven passing touchdowns, spent the game on the sidelines in jeans and a walking boot on the hurt ankle. Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said Degraff is day-to-day and that MRIs earlier in the week were negative.
The War Eagles (2-3, 0-2 8-AAA North) are at Franklin County next in a game they desperately need if they’re going to get back in the playoff hunt.
Sophomore Wyatt Burgess made his first varsity start in place of Degraff and had his hands full against a stingy Stephens County defense that is allowing only 10 points a game.
Burgess completed 3-of-11 passes for 37 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked four times.
The War Eagles also were without leading receiver Tony Fayson, who tore a knee ligament two weeks ago against Monroe Area and is out for the season.
“We’ve got to get healthy, and once we do we believe we have a chance to get back in things,” said Luttrell. “We have played two of the best teams in the subregion (in North Hall and Stephens County).”
Even at full strength, it would have been hard to stop Thornton, a powerful 5-foot-9, 180-pound back with breakaway speed.
“Recruiting is going well,” Thornton said. “I am excited to go down to Georgia Tech tomorrow. I’m kind of hoping they’ll offer.”
UGA, Tennessee and Auburn, among others, also are interested. And it’s not hard to see why.
Thornton scored on a 64-yard run on his second touch of the game, putting the Indians up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
Stephens County (5-1, 2-0 8-AAA North) quickly made it 14-0 on a 58-yard strike from quarterback Dionte Mayfield to T’omas Colbert on a perfect post pattern off play action. It was the only pass Mayfield would complete in six attempts.
Trailing 14-0, Chestatee put together a nice drive that began at its own 11-yard line late in the first quarter. Burgess hit tight end Blake McCormack on a quick hitter for 21 yards, and Quan Clark had a big run to help get the War Eagles down to the Indians’ 24. But Stephens County stiffened, stopping the drive with a big sack and forcing a punt.
On the next play, Thornton went around left end and pulled away from defenders on his way for an 80-yard touchdown that helped the Indians take a 21-0 lead into halftime Thornton had 167 yards on six carries in the first half.
Chestatee opened the second half with a surprise onside kick, recovering at the Stephens County 35. But the War Eagles were unable to capitalize when Burgess’ fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Thornton slammed the door three plays later, scoring from 63 yards out to put the Indians up 28-0 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
The War Eagles finished with 117 yards of offense, a total that was hurt by more than 30 yards in sacks. Clark led Chestatee with 65 yards on 15 carries.