Vikings 35, Wildcats 14
Difference maker: The East Hall offensive line blew apart holes in the Rabun County defense all night, allowing the Vikings to tally 412 rushing yards.
Stat that matters: 6.9 yards per carry for an East Hall offense that ran the ball 59 times, against just eight passing attempts.
Turning point: With 3:57 remaining in the first half, Rabun County had just cut the East Hall lead to 14-7 when Vikings quarterback Cameron Davis ran 65 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive, starting a 21-0 run to end the half.
Who’s next: East Hall travels to 8-AA North opponent Union County on Friday. Rabun County returns home to host Fannin County.
The game plan for East Hall on Friday night was simple: Keep the Rabun County offense off the field.
The Vikings ground out 412 yards rushing and dominated time of possession in a game of keep-away at East Hall Stadium, and opened the 8-AA North subregion schedule with a 35-14 win against the Wildcats (2-3, 0-1 8-AA North).
“That’s what we like. We like to control the ball and we want to run the ball,” said East Hall coach Bryan Gray. “When the offensive line starts to click we really run the ball well.”
Senior running back Jamond Witt led the Vikings (3-2, 1-0 8-AA North) with 148 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 10 carries.
Witt was one of 13 ball carriers for the Vikings, including a second 100-yard rusher in quarterback Cameron Davis, who finished with 101 yards on nine carries and a score.
Junior Austen Mahaffey added two more rushing touchdowns and 74 yards on the ground as East Hall dominated the line of scrimmage all night.
“We know that we can do a whole bunch of things when the offensive line is doing good,” Davis said. “It’s a good win because these past two weeks we’ve been down.”
After opening the season with two dominant wins, East Hall scored just nine points in the next two games, both losses.
When it counted most, the Vikings got back on track, tallying 446 yards of total offense while allowing just 209 on defense.
“Their backs are good backs, and they got away from us,” said Rabun County coach Danny Durham. “We couldn’t shut them down.”
The Wildcats couldn’t be completely shut down, either, taking advantage of a couple of big plays to keep the pressure on.
Rabun County running back Dyllon Crabtree paced the Wildcats, carrying the ball 14 times for 99 yards.
“We did not want them hanging around, because they were going to make big plays,” Gray said. “Nothing’s scarier than playing a team with a huge heart.”
The Vikings however, refused to allow a rally.
After Rabun County cut the East Hall lead to 14-7 late in the second, the Vikings responded with three touchdowns to end the half, the first on a one-play, 65-yard drive when Davis simply snapped the ball and followed his center through the defense for a score.
In the first half, Witt carried the ball eight times for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The senior had just one carry of less than 10 yards — a 2-yard touchdown run to put the hosts ahead 14-0 on his second score of the night.
Witt’s first score was on his first carry, a 25-yard run. Each of his first five carries were for 20 yards or more.
Witt wasn’t the only offensive star in the first half. The East Hall rushing game tallied 272 total yards and four touchdowns on the ground, recording 10 first downs along the way.
Mahaffey and Davis added first half scores. Mahaffey’s 1-yard plunge, along with a successful two-point conversion run, put the Viking ahead by 21 just before the half.