Friday December 2nd, 2022 7:21AM

1st round playoffs: Indians knocked out by powerhouse Oconee Co.

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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DAHLONEGA, Ga. — First-year Lumpkin County coach Heath Webb has insisted from the beginning that his Indians are just beginning their building process.

However, after tying the program record in wins in a season (8 -- 1967, 1976, 2022), setting the program record in points scored (365), and securing their first home playoff game since 2014, it was hard not to think they had arrived ahead of schedule.

But after a rough 49-21 loss to Oconee County in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs on a rare Saturday afternoon game at The Burial Grounds, Webb said this was just the next step in the process.

“To understand the heat, you have to be in the kitchen. And those guys (Oconee County) have been in the kitchen for a long time,” Webb said. “Being here was the right step for us. Now we have to take the next step.”

Oconee County (7-4) represented what can be for rebuilding programs. The Warriors played for back-to-back state titles in 2019 and 2020 after not getting past the second round of the playoffs for nearly 20 years.

“We’re still young and we’re still growing. We have 16 starters coming back and played a lot of sophomores this year,” Webb said. “It was good for us to be on the field with an Oconee County. That’s a Final 4 team right there.

“We needed to feel what a Final 4 team felt like. Our fans got to see it, our parents got to see it, so now when we move forward as a program our community understands we’re going to have to pony-up on the nutrition side of things and get bigger and stronger in the weight room.”

The game was not as close as the score would indicate. Lumpkin County scored all three of its touchdowns in the second half after Oconee County had built a 49-0 lead, including a stunning 35-point first quarter barrage.

The Warriors struck quickly needing just three plays to take a fast 7-0 lead, highlighted by a 59-yard run from quarterback Mac Ricks and capped by a 12-yard run from CJ Jones just 65 seconds in.

That would be the start of the first quarter blitz by the Warriors, who scored on their first five possessions. Jones would get all five touchdowns adding scoring runs of 1, 21, 2, and 7 yards as they piled up 223 yards on the ground before taking a 35-0 lead into the second quarter.

The Oconee County reserves added a pair of scores in the second quarter. The Warriors piled up 351 yards of offense, including 309 on the ground, in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Warriors defense was just as dominant. They held a potent Lumpkin County offense to just 19 total yards in the first half, only -2 rushing, sacking senior quarterback Cooper Scott three times, and picking off two passes. Lumpkin’s biggest play from scrimmage in the first half was a 15-yard pass from Scott to Cal Faulkner.

The Indians finally got on the board late in the third quarter on a 5-yard TD run from Mason Sullens. Gary Walker added a 4-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter and then Scott closed out his career with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Carter Disanto in the waning moments of the game. Lumpkin County finished with just 140 total yards, their lowest output of the season, just 67 yards rushing.

Scott and the rest seniors like Jay Grizzle had all been around during the team’s long 19-game losing streak where they went just 3-27 the three previous season. They were instrumental in helping turn things around in 2022. Scott also thinks there are plenty more good days ahead.

“It was fun getting to play with all the guys this year,” an emotional Scott said afterwards. “To say we were able to change the program was fun. There were a lot of young guys who didn’t see the field much this year but I feel like they’re going to be just as good (when they get their chance).”

However, Lumpkin County is still looking for its first-ever playoff win. The Indians are now 0-6 all-time in the postseason, all since 2000, and are now 0-2 in home playoff games.

“We’re on the right path,” Webb said. “Today showed we have not arrived yet. But we have a lot of kids coming back. We feel good that we have things going in the right direction for sure.”

Oconee Co.............35....14....0.....0 -- 49
Lumpkin Co.............0......0....7...14 -- 21

First Quarter
O -- Jones 12 run (Gaines kick) 7-0, 10:55
O -- Jones 1 run (Gaines kick) 14-0, 7:04
O -- Jones 21 run (Gaines kick) 21-0, 4:54
O -- Jones 2 run (Gaines kick) 28-0, 2:59
O -- Jones 7 run (Gaines kick) 35-0, 1:40

Second Quarter
O -- Ward 18 pass from Watkins (Gaines kick) 42-0, 6:45
O -- Emmanuel 7 run (Gaines kick) 49-0, 3:42

Third Quarter
L -- Sullens 5 run (Staples kick) 49-7, 2:19

Fourth Quarter
L -- Walker 4 run (Staples kick) 49-14, 10:59
L -- Disantos 16 pass from Scott (Staples kick) 49-21, 0:43

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night
  • Associated Tags: High school football, Lumpkin County football
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