Saturday February 22nd, 2020 11:46PM

(VIDEO) Fitzgerald runs Rabun County out of 2A playoffs

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TIGER — Rabun County seemed to have all the intangibles Friday night in its Class 2A quarterfinal showdown with Fitzgerald.

A preferred home game. Familiar November north Georgia weather (cold and rainy). And, the classification’s best offense and a defense that had yet to yield a single point in the 2018 playoffs.

Fitzgerald either didn’t get the memo or just flat-out ignored it.

The Purple Hurricanes went old, old school on the Wildcats pulling out a single-wing, power rushing attack that was no match for the Rabun County defense, piling up 379 yards on the ground in a surprising 28-17 win at Frank Snyder Stadium.

“We were missing one of our key linebackers but really we just had trouble lining up defensively, especially early on. They just outplayed us,” Rabun County coach Lee Shaw said.

Offensively, it was the Wildcats (11-2) lowest output since managing just 10 points in a loss to Bremen in the season opener. They came in averaging 48.4 points a game. They couldn’t get anything going against a Hurricanes defense that was ranked 23rd in Class 2A.

Freshman quarterback Gunner Stockton, who had a phenomenal freshman campaign with over 2,700 yards passing coming into Friday night, struggled early. He was just 1 for 6 for 2 yards over the first three drives while the ground game behind Brison Beck was held to just 14 yards on 6 carries.

"We had some drops and that didn't help but that's a good football team. The weather wasn't that much of an issue. We just didn't execute the way we have been during the season" Shaw said.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald (10-3) used its power run game to churn out 133 yards on its first two drives, capped by a 23-yard touchdown run from Ethan Gordon and then a 14-yard TD run from Justin Reliford in the first 9 minutes of the game for a 14-0 lead.

The Wildcats defense finally began to stand up to the Hurricanes bullying tactics forcing a punt and then stopping them on downs at the Fitzgerald 36 after stuffing runs on third and fourth down. On Rabun’s first play after the defensive stand, Stockton and Austin Jones connected for a 36-yard TD pass to cut lead to 14-6,  after a botched PAT, early in the second quarter.

But after trading punts, Fitzgerald got going again converting a 3rd-and-16 on a 16-yard QB draw by Reliford. A strange sequence of an on-again, off-again lightning delay helped the Hurricanes catch their breath as Gordon scored his second TD of the game on a 62-yard sprint around right end on the second play back with just 1:53 left in the half for a 21-6 lead.

The two teams’ traded punts to open the third quarter with the Wildcats gaining field position and moving to the Fitzgerald 23. But the drive stalled and Tito Diaz booted a 39-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-9.

The Rabun defense again responded holding the Hurricanes to a 3-and-out on their next possession. Stockton and Austin Jones hooked up again for a 55-yard pass to the Fitzgerald 10 but again the drive stalled. This time, however, Diaz missed on a 28-yard field goal attempt with 3:11 left in the third quarter.

Quarterback Damien Devine then took over engineering an 80-yard drive and capping it with a 5-yard scoring run to push the lead to 28-9 with 11:53 left in the game.

Devine finished with 132 yards on 25 carries and Gordon added 91 yards and two scores on just 4 carries for Fitzgerald. Kody Krause had 62 yards for the Hurricanes.

After trading punts again, Rabun got its final score on a 2-yard Stockton touchdown run after he and Braxton Hicks connected for a 32-yard pass to the Hurricanes 2. Austin Jones added a 2-point run to close within 28-17 with 5:43 left.

Stockton finished the game 9 for 25 for 180 yards and the one TD pass. But the rushing attack, which came in averaging 216 yards a game, managed just 17 yards on 18 carries, which included three sacks of Stockton.

Rabun would not touch the ball again as Fitzgerald ran out the clock on the final possession of the game.

“We had a great year really,” Shaw said. “We played a lot of young guys and we’re in good shape for the future. But it’s disappointing to end it this way for the seniors.”

Fitzgerald.....14.....7....0....7 -- 28
Rabun Co.......0.....6....3....8 -- 17

First Quarter
F -- Gordon 26 run (Alex Martinez kick) 7-0, 8:29
F -- Reliford 14 run (Martinez kick) 14-0, 3:09

Second Quarter
R -- Jones 36 pass from Stockton (Tito Diaz kick) 14-6, 8:04
F -- Gordon 62 run (Martinez kick) 21-6, 1:53

Third Quarter
R -- Tito Diaz 39 FG 21-9, 6:37

Fourth Quarter
F -- Devine 14 run (Martinez kick) 28-9, 11:53
R -- Stockton 2 run (Jones run) 28-17, 5:43

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night
  • Associated Tags: High school football, Rabun County football
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Former GHS standout Thacker hired as new Georgia Tech DC
Former Gainesville High standout Andrew Thacker was named the new defensive coordinator by new new Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins Monday...
9:28PM ( 3 months ago )
Pacers beat Hawks for 5th consecutive victory
Myles Turner scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots in less than 24 minutes Monday, helping to lead the Indiana Pacers past Atlanta 116-108 before breaking his nose midway through the third quarter...
9:17PM ( 3 months ago )
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn with Brandon Reed and Pete McCole (12-31-18)
As we get ready to throw the checkered flag on the holiday season - and on 2018 - the Around The Track crew has worked to bring a little taste of Georgia Racing History...
8:00PM ( 3 months ago )
LANIERLAND: GHS boys, Branch girls repeat in Lanierland
The Flowery Branch girls and the Gainesville boys captured titles Saturday night in the 59th Lanierland Tournament...
10:12PM ( 3 months ago )
Boys basketball: Dawson, Banks, Lumpkin fall in tourney title games; Lakeview, West Hall win Lanierland consolation games
Rockdale outpaced Banks County 77-60 to win the Banks County Christmas Tournament Saturday night.
10:05PM ( 3 months ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls to Hart in title game; Hab loses consolation; Rabun, Banks win tourney titles
Dawson County and Hart County went down to the wire in the McDonald’s Shootout championship Saturday night.
9:42PM ( 3 months ago )
High School Sports
(Video) FCA All-Star Classic: East shuts down the West to win annual clash
The East cashed in West turnovers to win this year’s FCA East-West All-Star Classic 24-0 at Riverside Military Academy.
4:32PM ( 3 months ago )
Jaybo Shaw gets dream job on dream-like day
Jaybo Shaw got to live out a dream Friday...
4:30PM ( 3 months ago )
Rabun's Lee Shaw stepping down; Jaybo Shaw to take the reigns
In a stunning development Friday, Rabun County football coach Lee Shaw announced he is stepping down as the Wildcats coach...
10:48AM ( 3 months ago )
Friday Game Night
Buford's Derrian Brown hospitalized after medical incident
Buford school officials confirmed Thursday that senior running back Derrian Brown, who is expected to sign a National Letter of Intent with the University of Texas next week on National Signing Day, was hospitalized after a serious medical incident at school...
By AccessWDUN
8:48PM ( 2 months ago )
Football: UGA's Smart and Hartley visit Rabun by helicopter
It's not often a small school in North Georgia gets a visit from an SEC school by helicopter. The roar coming from the Rabun County High School's football field Thursday morning was a bright yellow helicopter. On board was Georgia football coach Kirby Smart and assistant coach Todd Hartley.
12:23PM ( 2 months ago )
Buford's Appling getting his shot to lead Wolves
Bryant Appling has just one goal in mind: “Get back to playing Buford football the way we know how to."
5:39PM ( 3 months ago )
Jaybo Shaw gets dream job on dream-like day
Jaybo Shaw got to live out a dream Friday...
4:30PM ( 3 months ago )
Rabun's Lee Shaw stepping down; Jaybo Shaw to take the reigns
In a stunning development Friday, Rabun County football coach Lee Shaw announced he is stepping down as the Wildcats coach...
10:48AM ( 3 months ago )