MILLEDGEVILLE — The GMC Prep football team took a long trip [150 miles to be exact] to Baconton Saturday night for a hot late-night matchup with a team that was revving up after some tough losses earlier in the season.
The Bulldogs were also revving up their offense and, with a bullish defensive attack, put their season back on track with a tremendous 33-8 victory over the Bacon Charter Blazers.
The first half was a grudge match from the start with both team trading punts and disallowing the other from any offensive threat, although GMC Prep did shoot themselves in the foot on two drives deep in enemy territory when they had the ball near the goal line for surefire scoring opportunities.
But head coach Brad Owens was quite optimistic about their showing in the second half, when several players, including newcomers, got to touch the ball offensively.
“We still killed ourselves with mistakes in the first half, but we started clicking in the third quarter,” said Owens as he maneuvered through a busy schedule Monday afternoon. “We started playing better offensively and got contributions from a lot of people. It’s fun when a lot of people get the ball and have success. We got to spread it around a little bit.”
Many teams can easily bow their heads and tuck away their season after a tough home loss, but GMC Prep’s program did a marvelous job of getting back in the film room as well as improve their technique on the practice field.
With a tough and purely “non-region” slate ahead, the Bulldogs will have nothing to lose in games where the opposition may have a slight edge on paper.
“It was encouraging to see us play better. I knew we were capable of playing a lot better. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re not happy with our first half,” said Owens.
The Bulldogs lead at halftime versus the Blazers, 7-0, and earned that score via a timely defensive play.
“We scored that first touchdown on a fumble recovery by [freshman] Devonta Walker,” said Owens.
On the play, Walker sprinted to the loose ball as soon as it popped out and raced 38 yards for the early lead.
GMC’s offense only had the ball four times in the first half and got at least a first down on each possession. On two of those drives, the Bulldogs drove down to the five yard line and the 15 yard line of the Blazers.
But then things started clicking for GMC Prep in the third quarter.
“We clicked and the defense started giving us good field position,” said Owens. “The defense was able to put us in a good position and we were able to put it in the end zone.”
Among those big plays by the Bulldogs were two turnovers and a blocked punt. GMC’s offense then did the rest, converting all three into touchdowns.
“We feel like we got some things fixed and we feel we still have things to work on,” said Owens.
The Bulldogs are currently pretty banged up, and after Saturday’s victory, have a total of 14 players who are either out or questionable for their upcoming game Friday versus Towns County at 7:30 p.m. at Davenport Field.
The Bulldogs had 12 different players carry the football Friday night, including third string tailback Wayne Griffin. Second string tailback Manquez Warthen fractured his collar bone in Saturday’s game.
“It was a total group effort,” said Owens.
In the second half, GMC got big, short yardage touchdown scores from Chase Bloodworth and fullback Hunter Harding to build their lead. Later, Griffin would score from three yards out to add another third quarter touchdown.
Later in the fourth quarter, Rekarchie Griffin, Wayne’s little brother, scored a touchdown from two yards out to give the Bulldogs their final score.
All in all, three freshmen scored touchdowns Saturday for GMC Prep, and kicker John Grant also converted three PATs in the contest.
Defensively, GMC’s Justin Parham had a monster game with several tackles and assists after being moved to the end position.
“He wreaked havoc all night,” said Owens. “He caused a fumble, recovered two fumbles and he blocked a punt. We held them to 152 yards of offense.”
GMC’s Colby Lawrence was the leading tackler Saturday with six, and Parham, Walker and Harding each finished with five apiece.
GMC Prep will kick off against Towns County at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Davenport Field.