Just before Greater Atlanta Christian (4-2, 2-0) quarterback Josh Rose took the final snap of a 21-0 win over North Hall (5-1, 1-1) — a QB kneel down to run the final seconds off the clock — Trojan head coach David Bishop called a timeout. He gathered his team on the sideline of Lynn Cottrell Field to deliver a message before the clock went final.
Bishop didn’t use the time to chew out his offense for its lack of production Friday night — 206 total offensive yards. He also didn’t get onto his players for one of them drawing a personal foul before the stoppage.
“We just told our kids ‘Listen, we love you,’” Bishop said. “‘Let’s just finish the way we started, with class.’ And that’s what our kids are. I’m proud of them.”
Bishop’s Trojans didn’t pull off the upset over the state’s fifth best team in 3A, but they did keep things close. A 2-yard touchdown run from Greater Atlanta Christian’s Montae Bailey that came with just under three minutes to play in the fourth quarter made the score look more lopsided than it could have been, but a strong defensive showing throughout the game kept the Trojans close in a matchup that typically has been one-sided.
“We just showed that we’re not going to give up,” Trojans senior Daniel Jackson said after the game. “Any team we play, we’re going to play for four quarters.”
And that’s exactly what Jackson and the rest of the Trojans did.
Greater Atlanta Christian started the game off with a 12-play drive that took more than four minutes off the clock, but North Hall came up with a stop on fourth down to keep the game scoreless. Still, offense was hard to come by for the Trojans early on, and they couldn’t do anything with the excellent field position. And even after a 52-yard punt from quarterback David Seavey pinned the Spartans on their own 6-yard line, the Trojan defense had trouble keeping Rose contained.
Rose completed all three of his pass attempts and added 25 yards on the ground in a six-play, 94-yard touchdown drive that he capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jake Floyd.
The North Hall offense remained stagnant, but the defense did its part in holding strong, blocking a field goal kick at the end of Greater Atlanta Christian’s third drive of the game to keep the deficit at one score.
However, another quick three and out put the already tired Trojan defense back on the field, and it didn’t take long for Greater Atlanta Christian to capitalize.
The Spartans drove down the field behind a number of big plays including rushes of 15 and 21 yards from running back Tyler Bride. Rose finished off that drive with a 25-yard pass to a diving Ty James in the end zone, putting Greater Atlanta Christian up 14-0 with little more than three minutes to go until halftime.
But North Hall refused to back down, coming out in the second half playing excellent defense, forcing a couple punts and recovering a Greater Atlanta Christian fumble to keep the Spartans from running the score any higher.
Twice the Trojans drove across midfield into Greater Atlanta Christian territory, but one drive stalled when Jackson threw an interception on a trick play, and the other was ended by a JT Fair fumble.
“We had opportunities two different times that we probably could have scored, and we came up with nothing,” Bishop said. “That’s on me. We worked on some stuff, and then didn’t execute, so at the end of the day it falls on my head.”
Eventually, the mistakes grew too numerous to overcome, and Greater Atlanta Christian managed to finish off the shutout. Still, the Trojans players remained positive, reassuring each other in the postgame huddle that one loss was not going to derail a positive start to the season.
After the game, an emotional Jackson pledged that rather than letting the loss deflate the team, the Trojans would come out next week even better than before.
“We’re going to practice harder than we’ve ever practiced before,” he said. “Because we can’t stand this feeling we have right now. We’re going to do our best so it never happens again.”
After a bye week, North Hall hosts Fannin County on Oct. 12.