SYLVANIA – It didn’t take long for the Screven County Gamecocks to take the lead in their first-round state playoff matchup against Washington County.
And once they took the lead, they didn’t look back as their stellar defense and punishing ground game led the Gamecocks to a 42-7 win over the Golden Hawks to keep their undefeated season alive.
On Screven County’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Armani Bunbury faked the handoff on the option and then outran the Golden Hawks defense for a 79-yard touchdown.
A bad snap on a punt attempt by Washington County gave the Gamecocks the ball back at the two-yard line and on the next play, fullback C.J. Wright took the handoff up the middle for the score and a quick 14-0 lead only 86 seconds into the game.
“We had some breaks and made some plays,” said Screven County Head Coach Ron Duncan. “With them having to play a mini-game on Monday, we knew wanted to jump out early on them.”
Washington County had to play a round-robin tiebreaker on Monday for seeding from Region 3-AA and ended up fourth, earning them a date with the Gamecocks.
Washington County looked to answer, taking more than 10 minutes on a drive that went from their 35 to the Screven six-yard line on a drive that featured three fourth-down conversions. However, facing third and goal, the Screven defense was able to force an interception and stop the scoring threat.
It was one of four interceptions Screven County would have on the night as their defense kept the Golden Hawks out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter, after the game was well in hand.
“We’ve played a bend but don’t break defense all year,” Duncan said. “We want to make them make plays and with high school offenses, eventually they’re going to make a mistake.”
The two teams traded punts for most of the second quarter. Late in the half, Screven appeared to be backed up inside their five following a punt, but a penalty on Washington County resulted in the Golden Hawks having to punt again and this time Screven took over at their 25.
Two plays later, Bunbury found Kashaw Robinson open over the middle. He was able to break two tackles and then find the end zone on a 63-yard score.
It took only 95 seconds for the Gamecocks to score again. Following an interception by senior Nicholas Clifton, Bunbury kept the ball on an option and raced 22 yards for the final touchdown of the first half.
Even with the long drive in the first quarter, the Gamecocks were able to hold the Golden Nights to 72 total yards in the first half while their offense piled up 236 yards in the first half.
Bunbury added a two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, his third rushing touchdown and forth overall, to extend the lead to 35-0. After the Gamecocks held Washington County scoreless after three quarters, a running clock was initiated for the fourth quarter with Screven County up by at least 30.
Washington County looked to score early in the fourth, but an interception by Eli Broadnax in the end zone thwarted the attempt. Broadnax actually returned the pick 100 yards for an apparent touchdown, but a penalty on the runback negated the score.
But on the first play after the turnover, Gary Hawkins took a handoff up the middle for a 43-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring for Screven County.
Washington County got their only score with 1:46 remaining, but it was far too little too for the Golden Hawks.
“They are a good team and they have some great players,” Duncan said.
The Gamecocks advance to host Toombs County next week in the second round of the playoffs. Toombs County defeated Fitzgerald 34-31.