The Valdosta Daily Times
Calhoun is the No. 1 football team in Class AA. On Friday night, the Yellow Jackets showed they deserve that ranking.
Top-ranked Calhoun dominated its showdown with No. 2 Brooks County on Friday in the AA state quarterfinals, defeating the Trojans 49-14.
The Yellow Jackets piled up 542 yards of total offense and scored seven touchdowns, and limited Brooks' offense to just two touchdowns. Calhoun (13-0) moved on to the semifinals, while Brooks' season ended at 12-1.
"I think we just didn't start off being as aggressive as I wanted to be," Brooks head coach Maurice Freeman said. "We've been working on Calhoun for three weeks. Nothing they did surprised us. We just did not give them the fight I thought we were going to give them. I'm disappointed in the way we played. We didn't play like the Trojans normally play."
"Offensively, defensively and special teams, I thought they (played well)," Freeman added. "Tonight, they had our number."
Earlier this week, Calhoun quarterback Taylor Lamb was chosen the Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year. On Friday night, he looked worthy of that award. He ran the Yellow Jackets' offense brilliantly, directing them to seven touchdowns. He completed 24 of 32 passes for 367 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
"(Lamb played) very good. I think he is the Gatorade Player of the Year," Freeman said. "He did an outstanding job directing that offense. He did an outstanding job throwing that football. And he ran when he had to. My hat is off to him. He did a great job."
After Brooks had to punt on the opening possession of the game, Calhoun drove for a touchdown, going 64 yards in eight plays. Lamb ran the Yellow Jackets' offense with precision, completing six of seven passes to four different receivers. The biggest completion was a 30-yard pass to Tydus Curtis on third-and-14, down to the Brooks 10-yard line. Three plays later, on third-and-goal from the 9, Lamb faked a handoff to Alex Urbano going left and looked towards the end zone. Urbano slipped into the flat uncovered, and Lamb found him wide open for a touchdown. Jonah Gallman's extra point gave Calhoun a 7-0 lead.
Brooks went three-and-out and punted, then Calhoun drove for another score. Lamb hit Urbano for 22 yards and Logan Walraven for 21 yards on the first two plays, which moved the ball to the Trojans' 12. Two plays later, Lamb threw a slant to Curtis, who caught the ball at the 2 and crossed the goal line before the Trojans could tackle him. That gave the Yellow Jackets a 14-0 lead.
"That was tough (falling behind 14-0). We put ourselves in a deep hole," Freeman said. "Once they jump up 14, that changes our offensive game plan a little bit."
Brooks responded with a scoring drive of its own. Malkom Parrish, the Trojans' star quarterback, completed five of six passes on the drive, including an 18-yard completion to Deric Herring on second-and-15 and a 25-yard pass to Damian Cobb. Two plays later, Parrish scrambled out of the pocket, then threw the ball towards the end zone. Dejuan Miley reached up and made a one-handed catch in the end zone for a touchdown. Daniel Hodum's extra point cut Calhoun's lead to 14-7.
But Calhoun answered with a 13-play, 69-yard drive, and scored another touchdown. The Yellow Jackets faced third-and-5 and fourth-and-1 on the drive, but converted both times. On second-and-goal from the 1, Lamb kept on a quarterback sneak, and crossed the goal line to give Calhoun a 21-7 lead.
Calhoun's Donnell Anthony ended Brooks' next drive by ripping the ball out of a receiver's hands on a long throw. Then the Yellow Jackets' offense went back to work. Lamb completed passes of 15 and 25 yards to Walraven. Then on first-and-10 from the Trojans' 35, Lamb threw a slip screen to Curtis, who broke a tackle and raced 35 yards into the end zone to extend Calhoun's lead to 28-7.
Calhoun got the ball to start the second half, and drove for another score. Lamb was five of five on the drive, including a 22-yard third down pass to Curtis. Then on first-and-10 from Brooks' 21, Lamb kept the ball on a quarterback draw, found a hole and raced 21 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the day, making Calhoun's lead 35-7.
On Brooks' ensuing possession, with the ball at the Calhoun 37, Parrish scrambled around, avoided the pass rush and, on the run, fired a pass into the end zone. Sam Bradley reached out, tipped the ball in the air and caught it. But one of the officials ruled that Parrish had gone past the line of scrimmage before he threw the ball, and that flag wiped out the touchdown (Calhoun got a personal foul penalty on the same play, which wiped out the entire play). After that, Parrish completed an 11-yard pass to Cobb and ran for 14 yards, down to the 10. Four plays later, Brooks went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 6. Miley caught a pass from Parrish and was tackled close to the goal line, but the side judge ruled that the ball hadn't crossed the goal line, and awarded Calhoun the ball at the 2-inch line.
On the next play, Urbano found a hole, broke through and took off running. Several defenders pursued him, but he broke one defender's attempted tackle and outran the rest of them to the end zone for a 99-yard touchdown run. That made the score 42-7.
Calhoun left its first string offense in for one more series, and the Yellow Jackets drove for one final touchdown. On the sixth play of the drive, Josh Barnes got behind a defender, hauled in a pass along the Calhoun sideline and raced 35 yards for a touchdown, giving his team a commanding 49-7 lead.
Because Calhoun was leading by 42 points at the end of the third quarter, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
Brooks put a late touchdown on the scoreboard, driving 56 yards in eight plays. Parrish moved the Trojans with his feet, gaining 21, 13 and 11 yards on his first three carries, which helped move the ball to the Yellow Jackets' 6. Then on third-and-goal from the 1, Parrish ran the ball in behind the left side of the line. That made the final score 49-14.
Parrish passed for 164 yards and a touchdown and ran for 136 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Urbano rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries for Calhoun.