Indians fall in Title Game

ATLANTA — Irwin County’s usual second half surge just did not happen.

The no. 2 seeded Indians committed five turnovers as no. 4 Hawkinsville escaped with a 15-6 win Friday in the Class A (Public) State Championship game at the Georgia Dome. The Indians finish the season 11-2-1 under first year coach Buddy Nobles, while the Red Devils cap their championship season with a 13-1 record. Irwin had a promising opening drive after forcing a Red Devil punt. The Indians took over with 10:20 left in the quarter and took four minutes off the clock, but a holding call effectively ended the drive after eight plays. Hawkinsville committed one of their three turnovers on their next drive when Mykell Collier fell on a Phillip Thompson fumble at the Devils’ 25 yard line.

Jakyron Young scores from 13 yards out in the first quarter. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr.

Jakyron Young scores from 13 yards out in the first quarter. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr.

Irwin went the distance in seven plays and Jakyron Young finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. Robert Moore added ten yards on the drive for the Indians. The extra point was no good and blocked after a high snap, but Irwin led 6-0 with 48 seconds left in the opening quarter. The game went back and forth from there with four consecutive three-and-outs combined by the two teams. On the fourth three-and-out, disaster struck for Irwin. The snap went high over Nathan Tucker’s head and when he went to punt it away, it was blocked by Hilliard Wright and recovered on the Indians’ five yard line. It still took the Red Devils four plays to get it in, with Warren Singletary Jr. punching it in from three yards out on a fourth and goal play. Tyler Brown’s extra point sailed wide right and the game remained tied at six with 3:41 left in the half. Irwin’s stout defense allowed only 42 yards at halftime, while garnering 78 of their own.

On the opening kickoff in the second half, disaster struck again for the Indians. Cartavion Benyard was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The ball squirmed by Benyard and he ran back to retrieve it at the 3 yard line. He tried to outrun the defense, but was tackled in the end zone, giving Hawkinsville an 8-6 lead just seconds into the second half. The Indians held the Devils to a three-and-out, but Irwin could only muster 21 yards on their next drive. That’s when the third special teams mistake happened. Another snap sailed over Tucker’s head and he was tackled for a loss at the Indians’ 23 yard line, setting up the Devils in great field position.

Once again, it took another fourth down conversion for Hawkinsville to lead to more points. Faced with a fourth and 4, quarterback Dakota Sloan found Wright for a 16 yard gain to set up the Devils at the Indians’ 1-yard line. Singletary scored his second TD of the game from one yard out and the Devils extra point gave them a 15-6 lead over the Indians. The Indians turned the ball over on their next three possessions: fumble, interception, fumble. Irwin’s best drive came in the fourth quarter, when from their own 13, marched down to the Hawkinsville 20. But again, the drive ended via a fumble and the Devils took over with 5:31 remaining in the game.

The Indians’ last drive ended on a turnover on downs with just over a minute to play and Hawkinsville took to the victory formation to run out the clock.

“We just didn’t get the job done; it’s my fault,” Nobles said after the contest. “We turned the ball over a little bit, but I have to do a better job coaching. We’re proud that we got here, but not how we showed (in the end). So we are gonna get better and get ready in the off season.”

 

Official statistics can be found at this website.

 

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