MT. AIRY — Habersham Central ended a 14-game losing to rival Stephens County Friday night with a thrilling 27-21 victory over the Indians at Raider Stadium.
The Raiders (2-2) had not won a game in the series since 1996. They let late leads slip away each of the two previous seasons. This time, they were able to hang on.
"It feels great to be able to get this off our backs," Habersham Central coach Benji Harrison said. "It's a special thing for these kids. We knew we needed to turn the tide in the series. We just felt it was our time."
The Raiders looked ready to seize control early in the third quarter when quarterback Ryte Woodruff scored on a 14-yard run just moments into the second half for a 19-7 lead. That came just 1:01 of game time after Woodruff and Caleb Wade connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass with just 41 seconds left in the first half to break a 7-7 tie.
Stephens County highly-touted running back Hudson Spurlock kept the Indians in the game with 204 yards rushing on 33 carries and added one catch for 26 yards. Spurlock got the first score for Stephens County on a 38-yard run early in the second quarter to tie the game at 7. He scored again in the third quarter on a 1 -yard run to cap a 14-play, 68-yard drive to close to within 19-14.
Habersham pushed the lead to 27-14 on a 4-yard Woodruff run and then a 2-point pass to Joshua Pickett. But the Indians answered right back as Mardy Lanier returned the ensuing kickoff 66-yards for a touchdown to make it 27-21.
But Stephens County could not get the game-winner as the Raiders defense held on in the fourth quarter. Stephens County did not help itself fumbling four times and losing three. habersham did not commit a turnover in the game.
"This should do a lot for our confidence the rest of the way," Harrison said.
Spurlock finished with 204 yards rushing but the rest of the Stephens County offense managed just 142 total yards.
Woodruff was 15-of-23 for 186 yards passing for Habersham. Jackson Clouatre added 104 yards rushing for the Raiders.