South Atlanta Escapes With 36-32 Win Over Columbia, Runs It Back As Region Champs
On the final week of the regular season of the 2021 Georgia High School Association football season, the Columbia Eagles hosted the South Atlanta Hornets, with the winner of the match up taking the GHSA 2A Region 6 championship and claiming the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs next week. The Eagles defense would help Columbia strike first as Jaden Baugn would intercept a John Lawton pass and return it to the end zone to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead. The Hornets would respond on the ensuing kickoff as Nicholas Brown would return the kick for a touchdown and with a two point conversion, the Hornets would take a 8-6 lead.
Columbia would regain the lead in the second quarter after a Royce Tolbert rushing touchdown and two point conversion put the Eagles up 14-8, but it would be déjà vu for the Eagles special teams as South Atlanta’s Brown would return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown for the second time of the game and the Hornets would be back on top 16-14. Later in the quarter, a 60 yard touchdown run by the Hornets’ running back, Keyjuan Brown, and a two point conversion would give them a 24-14 lead, which they would maintain at the half.
In the third quarter, the two teams would exchange a pair of touchdowns as Columbia’s Tolbert would rush for his second touchdown of the night, cutting into the South Atlanta lead, as they trailed 24-20, but the Hornets would respond with a rushing touchdown by Keyjuan Brown, who finished with three touchdowns on the night and reached 2,000 rushing yards for the season, and would take a 10 point lead as they went up 30-20. In the fourth quarter, Columbia quarterback, Elijah Morgan would score on a keeper to cut the Hornets’ lead down to four and on the ensuing South Atlanta possession, the Eagles defense would force a fumble and recover the ball. Columbia would then capitalize as Tolbert would rush for his third touchdown of the game, giving the Eagles a 32-30 lead.
After failing to respond, the South Atlanta defense would find themselves back on the field with less than three minutes to go in the game and would come up big as they would intercept a Morgan pass, giving their offense at another shot. On fourth and 13, South Atlanta’s John Lawton would be forced out of the pocket and would keep the play alive long enough to heave the ball down field and TJ Summerall would come down with the catch for the Hornets at the two yard line. On the very next play, Keyjuan Brown would add another rushing touchdown to his night as South Atlanta would go up 36-32 and would go on to win by that score.
After the game, South Atlanta head coach, Michael Woolridge, who is in his first year as head coach of the Hornets, immediately reflected on the fourth and 13 hail mary pass that set up the winning touchdown, calling it “unbelievable”. Woolridge also gave his players credit for working hard from his first day with them after taking over. “They had a lot of talent coming back. These are good kids and I knew the first day I met them, they just needed a little guidance. And they came in and they worked hard and this is the results,” Woolridge said of the Hornets second consecutive region win.