Sandy Creek takes Ga. AAA football title in 14-7 win over Carrollton
Patriots capture second title with big defense, including redzone fumble recovery to clinch it
Watch a photographic breakdown of the game-clinching fumble: http://www.thecitizen.com/galleries/12-12-2010/gallery-anatomy-game-winn...
Winning a state championship is hard, so winning back to back state championships has to be even more difficult. Yet, the Patriots did it with a cool demeanor that didn't show the first sign of panic, even when Carrollton got within inches of tying the game Saturday night.
The first series for both teams in the Class AAA championship passed with not a lot occurring but when Sandy Creek’s Bruce Dukes returned a booming punt from Carrollton to the Trojans’ 42 yard line, the Patriots capitalized with two first down runs from Derrick Alexander and a three yard touchdown run from quarterback Ronnie Bell. The score at the end of the first quarter was 7-0 Sandy Creek and a big part of that was their ferocious defense, stopping Carrollton on a 4th and 6 in the Patriots territory and then knocking back two running plays in a row on the Trojans next drive to force another third and long to start the second quarter.
The second quarter started with Carrollton’s drive stalling and Sandy Creek methodically making their way down the field. Their big time players, Alex Chisum and Alexander, made big time plays to keep the drive moving. Alexander capped off a 68 yard drive with a seven yard run up the middle. Carrollton put together a nice drive after that but it was thwarted by an interception from Mike Hilton. Sandy Creek didn’t get much on their next drive and that left just enough time for Carrollton to mount one more drive and score. Quarterback A.J. Barge connected with Josh Barge on a 37 yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 14-7.
In the third quarter, after swapping interceptions and a Sandy Creek fumble, the score remained the same but momentum appeared to be firmly in the Trojans grasp. They were moving the ball and Sandy Creek was not. Instead of opting for a chip shot field goal at the end of the third quarter on 4th and 2, Carrollton went for it with a pass to the endzone and missed. Sandy Creek got the ball on their own nine yard line and moved the ball to the middle of the field before stalling.
Carrollton then put together a monstrous drive, one that went nearly 70 yards and ate up six minutes of clock and one that had Creek fans nearly panicking. It looked like a tie was inevitable and there had ben little offense since the first half. But a jarring hit and a fumble recovery from Quinteze Williams gave Sandy Creek the ball and the momentum. Bell ran the first play to the Patriots 40 and Alexander entered Carrollton territory on his next run. The clock was winding down and Sandy Creek just had to hang on for a championship.
And they did, after one more big pass from Bell to Chisum. The two seniors leave Sandy Creek as two-time state champions and with their coach believing he had the best quarterback and receiver in the state.
“We said last year that we wanted to be back to back state championships so that we would be recognized as one of the top programs in the state,” head coach Chip Walker said after the game. There can be no denying it now. The Patriots went 15-0 this season and are 29-1 over the last two seasons with those 29 wins coming consecutively.
Sandy Creek had a target on their back all year as a defending state champion and that target will only get bigger next season, but that is a worry for another day. Today, the Patriots and their fans will travel back to Tyrone with another state championship trophy and the knowledge that they are among the elite football programs in the state.