MT. AIRY — For all the talk of the Habersham Central offense, the Raiders defense can be downright offensive as well.
The Raiders defense picked off four passes and held Central Gwinnett to just 187 total yards to spark a 62-14 blowout win at Raider Stadium Tuesday night in a crucial Region 8-6A contest.
The game was moved from Nov. 6 because of COVID-19 issues for the Black Knights.
“This may have been our most complete game,” Habersham Central coach Benji Harrison said. “Both sides of the ball played exceptional tonight, I thought. But we haven’t clinched anything yet.”
The win for the Raiders (5-4, 3-2 Region 8-6A) keeps them in third place in the region. They can clinch the No. 3 spot outright on Saturday with a road win over Shiloh (3-6, 2-3 Region 8-6A).
Austin Wood had three of the four Habersham picks, which gives him 9 on the season and ties a school record. That also gives the Raiders nine interceptions in their last two games. They held the Black Knights (1-9, 0-6 Region 8-6A) to just 7 yards rushing on 20 carries and Black Knights’ QB Justin Johnson to just 161 yards passing. Talented Central Gwinnett receiver Mekhi Mews, who came in sixth in the state in receiving, had 8 catches for 113 yards and just 1 touchdown as he accounted for 121 of the 187 total yards.
While the defense was bottling up a speedy Black Knights offense, the Raiders offense did what it does best: run over opposing defenses. Joshua Pickett (182 yards) and Jackson Clouatre (115 yards) led a 382-yard rushing attack for Habersham Central
The Raiders jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Pickett to cap the opening drive. The Black Knights tied the game at 7 late in the first quarter on a 4-yard pass from Johnson to Eldrick Mason but the Raiders reclaimed the lead on their next play when Pickett sprinted 70 yards for a score and a 14-7 lead.
Habersham opened up a 28-7 lead midway through the second on 4-yard TD runs each by Pickett run and Clouatre. Johnson pulled Central Gwinnett to within 28-14 on a 6-yard TD pass to Mews with 4:57 left in the half but the Raiders offense and defense dominated from there.
Habersham scored 21 points over the final 2:42 of the half on a 55-yard run from Clouatre and a pair of TD passes from Pickett to Grayson Taylor (26 yards) and Clouatre (13 yards) for a 48-14 halftime lead.
The Raiders defense held the Black Knights scoreless the rest of the way and reserves Simarcus Burney (5-yard run) and Quinton Sharp (2-yard run) scored the final points in the second half.