By Lee Wilson
Lowndes High School of Valdosta is regarded by most as the state’s top team and appeared as high as No. 4 nationally by one media outlet last week. The Vikings know what it's like to play in big games and it showed in Friday night’s nationally-televised 24-7 win over Northside Warner Robins.
The victory marked Lowndes’ 20th straight, a new school record. Northside, winners of back-to-back state titles, saw its winning streak of 35 games come to an end.
The game, broadcast nationally by CBS College Sports, attracted a crowd of 13,500 at Martin Stadium in Valdosta. The atmosphere was similar to that of a playoff game and Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson took note.
"It was a full house, screaming on every play," McPherson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "To win in this atmosphere, on national television, is going to go a long way for our program. It was definitely a special night."
Linebacker Telvin Smith led the charge on defense for the Vikings with four tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.
"I just felt like I had to do something to stand out," Smith told the AJC. "There was a lot of hype to this game, and we had to prove we had heart."
Greg Reid, the Viking defensive back/running back who has committed to the University of Florida, played a tremendous game with nine carries for 118 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown run. Reid also returned a punt 49 yards to the end zone for a score.
Xavier Beacon provided some offensive drive for Northside, finishing the night with 111 yards on 25 carries. Beacon was, however, limited to just 27 yards in the second half.
Northside’s only score came on a second quarter 80-yard drive that tied the game 7-7. K.J. Martin provided the finisher on a 16-yard reverse. The big play of the drive was a 37-yard pass from Joe Scott to Allen Davis, the only significant completion for either team all night.
Dacula 20, South Gwinnett 16
Hunter Watts led Dacula to a narrow, 20-16 victory over host South Gwinnett Friday night by scoring from three yards out with just 36 seconds remaining.
Just another week of Gwinnett County high school football.
After starting 0-3 on the season, Dacula has won two out of three and is now 2-1 in the region. Watts played a huge role in this victory, piling up 112 yards rushing and 131 yards passing on the night.
"(Watts) made some great plays all night long," Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof told the Gwinnett Daily Post. "He's just a tough kid."
Watts could barely describe his terrific performance on the night.
"They were blitzing a lot and left open some huge holes," Watts told the Gwinnett Daily Post. "When I see green I like to run."
The game-winning drive came with Dacula down 16-13 and 5:43 left in the game. Watts orchestrated a John Elway-like 20-play, 78-yard drive m capped with his touchdown run.
The Falcons were 4-for-4 on third or fourth down on the drive.
Dacula got some help on a 4th-and-goal from the six when South Gwinnett was flagged for a pass interference call, giving the Falcons another chance. Watts made them pay.
"We had them in third-and-long all night and they made plays and we didn't," South Gwinnett head coach John Small told the Gwinnett Daily Post.