The debut for a highly-touted transfer quarterback and legendary coach couldn't have gone much better at Valdosta (Ga.)
Friday night. USC-bound quarterback Jake Garcia
threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and seven-time state championship coach Rush Propst watched his kicker Angel Martinez
drill a 41-yard field goal with 25 seconds left to give the host Wildcats a 28-25 win over Warner Robins
Garcia, who just transferred to the Georgia power a month earlier from Southern California, overcame a rough first half that included an interception and two lost fumbles. Valdosta entered ranked No. 40 nationally by MaxPreps.
But the 6-foot-3, 200-pound standout, connected on a 40-yard pass to Javonte Sherman
on the final drive to set up the game-winning field goal. Earlier he completed a 56-yard touchdown to Tajh Sanders
to get the Wildcats to within 19-17 with 5:05 left in the third quarter.
An 88-yard run by Malcolm Brown set up an Ahmad Walker
6-yard TD run to give Warner Robins a 25-17 lead before Garcia went to work. He tied the game at 25-25 on a a 55-yard touchdown pass to Aalah Brown
and an ensuing two-point conversion toss to Sherman with 8:25 left in the game.
After the conversion, Garcia hobbled off the field with a leg injury — he was sacked five times in the game — but showed toughness, engineering the game-winning drive.
Many eyes were on Garcia after he left California to get one more high school season under his belt. He plans to graduate early and join USC in the spring, but when the California Interscholastic Federation officially suspended its football season until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Garcia and his father moved to Georgia, where they have extended family.
Despite less than a month in the new system, Garcia helped the Wildcats prevail, making a winner out of Propst, who was hired in the spring. He entered the game with a career record of 313-92 over 30 seasons.
Valdosta knocked off a Warner Robins team that has reached a state championship game each of the last three seasons.