"Pound the rock."
That's Lumpkin County's offensive mantra. However, it was Chestatee that lived up to the saying on Friday night at War Eagle Stadium.
The War Eagles (3-2, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA) rushed the ball 50 times, almost exclusively between the tackles, for 248 yards in their 24-9 victory over Lumpkin County (2-3, 1-1 7B-AAA).
As for the Indians' rush game, it barely existed. The War Eagles' defense, which gave up over 32 points per game in the first three games, shut down the rushing attack, and effectively the Lumpkin County offense.
The Indians gained less than two yards per carry on 22 rushes, finishing with 42 total rushing yards. Of those, 20 came on a quarterback scramble on a third-and-25 play.
"Give Chestatee a lot of credit. They came up with a tremendous game plan," Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones said. "We're an inside running team, an option football team, and they were successful at stopping that aspect of our game."
Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell was excited about his defense's performance. "Our defense is getting a whole lot better, making some plays, and doing the little things," he said.
The defense had its second consecutive solid outing led by the play of the War Eagles top seniors: Defensive lineman Thomas Norman, linebacker and University of Georgia verbal commit Chase Vasser, and safety Jonathon Cain.
Norman knocked down multiple Indians' passes, Vasser was once again a tackling machine and Cain and Vasser combined to block a first-quarter punt that set up Chestatee's second score of the night, a Zach Mills 41-yard field goal.
Ethan Souther (9-13, 95 yards, two TDs) got the War Eagles on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Justin Byers to cap off Chestatee's opening 11-play, 80 yard drive.
Ben Souther continued his success on the ground with yet another 100 yard rushing performance. He finished with 142 yards on 22 carries and scored a second-quarter touchdown that gave Chestatee a 17-0 lead.
Lumpkin County responded and appeared to take the momentum right before halftime with a field goal.
But in 14.9 seconds, Ben Souther broke off a 33-yard run and big brother Ethan again connected with Byers for a touchdown, this time from 35 yards out on a beautifully designed play that had Byers do a double move that burned the Lumpkin secondary. Byers finished with 4 catches for 62 yards and now has 4 touchdown receptions in the last two games.
The Indians found some success in the fourth quarter with the passing game, but as Jones stated, "It was just a little too late."
After converting multiple third downs with passes on a 12-play, 70-yard drive, the Indians found the end zone when Lance Chuvala scored from 7 yards out on his only carry of the night. However, the extra point was blocked by Norman.
"Our whole staff has made it a focus for our special teams to be better this year, and Coach Counts, who is new to the staff this year, has done a tremendous job," Luttrell said.
The War Eagles will play host to Gilmer at 7:30 p.m. Friday at War Eagle Stadium in another crucial subregion matchup. Lumpkin will also play a subregion contest Friday at Pickens.