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Habersham tops East Hall, 72-55, in shootout
AJ Curry
Habersham Central quarterback AJ Curry - photo by For The Times

The Habersham Central Raiders and the East Hall Vikings put up almost 1,600 yards of total offense in a 72-55 Raiders win at East Hall Stadium in Gainesville on Friday night.

Led by new starting quarterback AJ Curry, the Raiders scored on six of their first seven possessions but the Vikings held serve, scoring on four of their first six as they trailed just 43-27. Curry completed 9-of-20 passes for 182 yards and three scores, while the combination of Daniel Matkovic and Baylor Hinshaw dominated between the tackles, combining for 489 yards on 47 carries and six TD’s. Not to be outdone, East Hall’s reigning Times Player of the Year Austin Parker completed 21-of-32 passes for 450 yards with four touchdowns himself. For the game Habersham Central had 853 total yards, 671 rushing, while East Hall had 641. 

The second half saw Habersham score on four of six of drives, mainly on draws up the middle by Matkovic and Hinshaw with a QB draw by Curry mixed in to the tune of over 400 second half rushing yards as they grinded the clock down. Both Hinshaw and Matkovic were barely touched until maybe five yards past the line of scrimmage as the Raiders offensive line dominated up front.

The first half action was as hot as the weather outside with the Raiders starting the scoring on a 3-play, 70 yard drive in just under a minute on a beautiful 45 yard strike from Curry to Nolberto Chastain. Both teams would trade haymakers in the first quarter (that took over 45 minutes of real time), scoring on three drives each with Habersham Central ahead 21-20. The first incompletion of the game didn’t come until the 7:31 mark of the first quarter. After a 78 yard pass from Parker to Tripp Rider, Curry would come back with a dazzling 68 yard run in which he evaded numerous tackles. For the game, the Stephens County transfer rushed for 165 yards on just 10 carries.

In a “you’ll never see this again moment,” Habersham Central opened the second half driving, reaching the East Hall 40 before six consecutive penalties put them at an unbelievable 1st-and-75. That was the only thing that really stopped them the entire game. That, and a second half interception by Giezi Barrientos. East Hall’s Cambren Harrison had 126 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards in the lone bright spot for the Raiders.

East Hall looks to get back on track as they travel to Chestatee next week while the Raiders are off before hosting White County on September 1st.

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