One notable one was the battle for Region 5AAAAAA supremacy that took place at the Eagles Nest between second-ranked Lassiter and Milton.
Both teams entered the game as the only undefeated squads in the region standings, so the winner of the matchup would hold sole possession of first place and control their destiny towards a region championship with three regular season games remaining.
Milton had Lassiter on its heels through the first 22 minutes of the contest. The Eagles picked up a safety in the first minute of the game and scored touchdowns on their first three drives. Milton controlled the line of scrimmage and used its running game to roll out to a 23-6 margin through much of the first half.
With Lassiter held in check, the Trojans’ felt like a few big plays could get them back in the game. C.J. Amann’s fumble recovery led to Juwan Dickey’s 47-yard reception to set up first-and-goal at the 3.
After halftime, Chris Murphy snagged an interception, and three plays later, Lane Jackman rushed for a 33-yard touchdown to pull Lassiter within three.
Just like that, the Trojans were back in the game, and they went on to outscore the Eagles 27-7 the rest of the way for a 47-30 victory.
“As a coach, you have to prepare your team for these situations before the game,” Irwin said about the anxious moments of begin behind early in a game. “You instill the mentality in the offseason about competing no matter what the situation is.
“You can have three situations — either you get ahead early, or the other team gets ahead early, or it’s a close game. But, if you’re worried about being behind instead of how you’re playing then things are bound to get worse. It’s important to stress to the kids to stay in the moment and not scoreboard watch.”
Several other squads pulled out victories after trailing early.
Harrison pulled out in front of 10th-ranked South Cobb 14-7 early in the second half behind a 30-yard touchdown pass from Lorenzo Nunez to Drevon Jones.
The Eagles got the best of the Hoyas later. Stephon Masha rushed 1-yard for score, Carlos Saldana kicked field goals of 32- and 33-yards and Chris Simon caught a 25-yard touchdown toss from Masha, capping a 19-0 scoring burst for South Cobb, which went on to win 26-21.
Michael Rogers of Campbell carried the ball 19 yards for a touchdown to pull the Spartans into a 15-all second quarter tie against Marietta, but a 9-yard run from Anthony Jennings, followed by an 84-yard scamper from KirVonte Benson in the third along with a 2-point conversion gave the Blue Devils a 30-15 cushion en route to a 44-36 victory.
Whitefield Academy, looking to keep pace with undefeated Walker in Region 6A (B), fell behind 6-0 to Mount Pisgah Christian in the first quarter, but stormed back with 28 unanswered points for a 22-point win. Richard Sherell rushed 21 times for 135 yards and a touchdown to lead the way for the Wolfpack.
Walton also found itself in dire straits as it trailed Wheeler 23-10 entering the fourth quarter. Looking to maintain pace with Lassiter and Milton in Region 5AAAAAA, the Raiders couldn’t afford another loss. So, Walton rallied behind its coaching staff as Tyren Jones rushed for a 22-yard touchdown and D.J. Smith caught a 24-yard scoring pass from Price Wilson to give the Raiders a 24-23 victory.
“We lost two starting offensive linemen in the third quarter, but we knew we had to get back into the game,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “The coaching staff made a conscious effort to be vocal and supportive of our players on the sidelines. We knew if we could make a play, something good was going to happen. We just needed some positive energy.
“Kids take their cues from the coaches. Stay positive and encouraging and be vocal. The first step in coming back from a deficit is to believe that you can. If you really believe it, and the kids see that and believe in it, you improve your chances of making it happen.”