POWDER SPRINGS — The Americans jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back in taking a 31-19 victory over the Nationals in the Georgia Elite Classic junior game Thursday at McEachern’s Walter Cantrell Stadium.
Harrison’s Lawrence Shadd III had three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown to help pace the Americans’ attack. McEachern’s Brandon Christy had two catches for 34 yards, and Lassiter’s Buchi Nwaubi added two receptions for 10 yards and a touchdown.
Milton’s Hayden Hairston connected on a 54-yard field goal on the Americans’ first possession, and Locust Grove’s Jason Camp added a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown nearly 10 minutes later for a 10-0 first-period margin.
Maynard Jackson’s Jack Breedlove kicked a 35-yard field goal at the 13:40 mark of the second period to put the Nationals on the board, but Nwaubi’s 10-yard reception from Arabia Mountain’s Bryson Williams with 4:08 on the clock was the last score of the first half as the Americans staked a 17-3 advantage.
The Nationals came out firing in the second period as Dooly County’s Bo Lawson connected with Norcross’ Christian Sims on a 60-yard touchdown throw to cap a two-play drive on the team’s first possession.
Shadd added to the Americans’ margin with a 9-yard reception from Williams roughly 2 minutes later for a 24-10 advantage.
Breedlove added a 37-yard field goal at the 5:48 mark to trim the Nationals’ deficit, and Kennesaw Mountain’s Keyon Brooks found the end zone with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter to get the Nationals even closer. The 2-point conversion failed, however, leaving the Nationals trailing 24-19.
Johns Creek’s Nate Hope rushed in from 39 yards out with 4:04 remaining on the Americans’ next possession, resulting in the game’s final score.
The Nationals drove from their 30 to the Americans’ 8 on their final series, but they turned the ball over on downs with 48 seconds left in the contest.
“We played fast and strong,” said McEachern linebacker Cam Ealey, who finished with two tackles for the Americans. “We came out and did our job, like the coaches asked us to do, and we had fun.
“It felt like a privilege to play this game with all these different kids from around the way. I was blessed to be with them.”
McEachern’s David Martin had 5½ tackles, Pebblebrook’s Trey Pinkney added four tackles, including a sack, and Whitefield Academy’s Kaleb Brooks had three tackles. McEachern’s Arinze Okwu had three tackles and McEachern’s Edward Glover had one.
Linemen Myles Moore (McEachern), Jared Atchison (Pebblebrook) and Marvin James (Pebblebrook) also saw action for the Americans.
For the Nationals, North Cobb’s Christian Singleton had seven carries for 26 yards, as well as one reception for 13 yards. Walton’s D.J. Soyoye added seven rushes for 24 yards and one catch for 4 yards. Brooks finished with six rushes for 18 yards and a score, to go with four receptions for 46 yards.
Defensively, Walton’s Malik Adams had three tackles, Kell’s Justin Talley had three tackles, including two sacks, and North Cobb’s D’Andre Ferguson finished with two tackles. Walton long snapper Luke Payne also participated.
“I wasn’t picked right away to play, so I had to make the team through tryouts,” Shadd said. “I came into the game kind of nervous, but knew I had to dominate when it was all over. I’m glad we won and that I was able to show that I’m one of the top receivers. I gave it my all. It was fun.”