Patriots, Panthers win! State title bouts next weekend
Two Fayette County football teams will fight for state football championships at the Georgia Dome next weekend.
The Starr's Mill Panthers eked out a 20-19 win over heavily favored Tucker on the road Friday night. And Sandy Creek ran away from Peach County
in the second half for a 35-17 win for the home crowd.
Friday night will be Starr's Mill's first championship game against Chattahoochee at 8 p.m., while Sandy Creek, last year's AAAA state champs, will play Carrollton for the AAA title Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Starr's Mill's victory over Tucker stunned many prognosticators who felt Tucker had the upper hand. But the Panthers had Davis Aasen, who not only scored 2 rushing touchdowns but came up with a huge fumble recovery with just over 2 minutes left in the game.
That led to the Panther's game-winning drive, capped with a 26-yard touchdown catch from Alex Riddle to go ahead by one. Following a failed 2-point conversion, the Mill defense made the 1 point lead stand, to the delight of the faithful who made the trip to Tucker.
At The Battlefield in Tyrone, Peach County traded leads with Sandy Creek in the first half, and Peach started the second half with a touchdown to give them a 3-point lead on the Patriots. But then Alex Chisum broke loose along the goal line, ringing up his third touchdown catch from quarterback Ronnie Bell to put Creek ahead for good 21-17.
Peach County answered the score immediately by running the kickoff back to midfield, but the Patriot defense held them to three and out, followed by another scoring drive with a 13-yard scamper from Derrick Alexander that made it 28-17.
Peach made it back to the redzone on its next drive, but Mike Hilton picked off a pass near the goal line and returned it past midfield. Soon after, Peach County had another drive interrupted by a Creek pick, this time by Jamal Ware, who ran the ball back to the 6 yard line, leading to a 1-yard sneak by Bell to cap it at 35-17.
The first half was the Bell and Chisum show, as they connected on a 76-yard pass on the third play of the game. Peach responded with a field goal and pulled ahead 10-7 with a touchdown with 2:27 left in the half.
Creek used the clock wisely, winding it down to 14 seconds before Chisum snuck across the goal line with a 7-yard grab to give Creek a 14-0 edge going into the half.
In the second half, Creek got its running game going, helping keep the clock running. With an insurmountable lead in the waning moments, the sideline began to buzz with that infectious phrase: "We're going to the Dome!" Some said it with pride, others with amazement. Once the final horn sounded, the Patriots stormed the field, shaking hands with their opponents before heading back to the home stands to high-five and hug the fans at the direction of head coach Chip Walker.
Likewise, the fans at Starr's Mill were ebullient about their team's come from behind victory, chanting "we believe" following Aasen's fumble recovery that led to the win on Riddle's catch. (See more at http://www.thecitizensports.com/node/1132)
This much is certain: two football teams from Fayette County are on the cusp of making early Christmas dreams come true. The Citizen will have more coverage in our Wednesday edition, and a special Playoff Podcast here at TheCitizen.com by late Wednesday afternoon.