Behind an opportunistic defense and the offense of quarterback Storm Yarbrough and running back Nick Lyles, the Chestatee High football team defeated Fannin County High 31-7 Friday night at War Eagle Stadium in Gainesville.
Lyles rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries with four touchdowns, while Yarbrough was in complete control of the offense. He completed 9 of 13 passes for 118 yards and added another 38 on the ground before being pulled midway through the third quarter to give true freshman Christian Charles some reps.
“Nick’s a great player, and I’m glad he’s playing for us,” second-year Chestatee coach Shaun Conley said. “He’s special, no doubt. When we get the ball in his hands, he does great things.”
The War Eagles (2-2) outgained the Rebels 330-276, but Chestatee converted two turnovers into touchdowns. Running back Cody Jacobs was a one-man wrecking crew for Fannin County (1-2) with 164 rushing yards on 29 carries, but the quarterback duo of Tyler Norton and Chandler Smith completed only 6 of 12 passes for 50 yards.
The War Eagles got on the board first with an 11-play, 60-yard drive, during which Yarbrough fired quickly to slot receiver Jacob Goodall for 27 yards on his first 3 passes.
With Fannin County’s defense spread out by Chestatee’s three- and four-receiver sets, Lyles was able to run between the tackles for 30 yards on five carries, including a 10-yard draw on fourth and 1 at midfield.
Six plays later, Lyles plunged in from the 1-yard line for the early 7-0 lead.
The run of the game came a 78-yard pitch-and-catch from Yarbrough to slot receiver Reggie James late in the first quarter, yet it resulted in a War Eagles turnover when James fumbled the ball on the 5-yard line for the War Eagles’ only mistake of the half.
Fannin County had an 11-play, 63 yard drive in the second quarter, including a bruising 34-yard, fourth-down run by Jacobs, only to have Norton throw a pass right to Chestatee’s Victor Birmingham.
That set up the War Eagles’ second touchdown of the half, Lyles’ zig-zagging, 14-yard scamper that saw the senior running back completely reverse field. Lyles later scored on a similar play to put Chestatee ahead 21-0 halfway through the third quarter, and he finished his night with a 50-yard score.
“Everyday at practice we work on cuts and ball-handling, and I just take that to the game,” Lyles said.
Fannin County’s only scoring drive came when Smith subbed for Norton and led the Rebels on an 11-play, 84 yard drive that ended with Smith scoring from a yard out in the fourth quarter.
War Eagles linebacker Chance Green had 10 tackles, and defensive lineman Preston Morris had two sacks for a defense that allowed 102 combined points the past two weeks.
“Our defense didn’t play that bad, we just played two really good teams (East Hall and Flowery Branch,” Conley said. “We played two really good teams, two playoff teams, and I thought we battled.
“We were a little outmatched at times in those games, but we played hard tonight and I’m super proud of our guys.”
The War Eagles lead the series against Fannin County 4-2, having won four straight. Chestatee hosts Lumpkin County High next Friday, while Fannin County hosts Andrews High from Andrews, North Carolina.