Stockbridge answers challenge for come from behind win, advances to GHSA 4A quarterfinals
The Georgia High School Association football state championship tournaments continued with second round action on Friday and in Class 4A, the Stockbridge Tigers hosted the Westminster Wildcats. The Tigers would receive the opening kickoff and got a huge boost of momentum as running back Jayden Scott would gain 50 yards on rushing play before being taken down at the Wildcats 30 yard line. Later on the drive, Stockbridge would find themselves at the Westminster 15 yard line when a third down sack would force the Tigers to attempt a field goal, however the kick would fall short, keeping the game scoreless.
On the ensuing Wildcats possession, Westminster would put together a solid drive that would result in a Michael Buhay rushing touchdown and later in the opening quarter a Wildcats’ field goal would give them a 10-0 lead and they looked to have all the momentum in their favor. However, on the Tigers’ next possession after the Westminster field goal, Stockbridge running back, Jayden Scott would burst through the line for a 75 yard rushing touchdown to finally get the Tigers on the board as they would trail 10-7. Both teams would find the end zone once more before the half and the Wildcats would lead 17-14 at the break.
In the third quarter, both defenses would have their best performances of the night as the period would go without either team mustering up any points, but in the fourth quarter, Stockbridge would take their first lead of the night as quarterback Cobey Thompkins would connect with Ryan Johnson, who’s leaping catch would be good for a Tigers touchdown, giving them a 24-17 lead after the extra point. Heading the other way and not to be outdone, the Wildcats would regain the lead in the unlikeliest ways as a Buhay pass would nearly be intercepted but would go off the fingertips of a Tigers’ defender and into the hands of Armstrong Jones, who would come down falling across the goal line for the touchdown.
Now leading 24-21, the Westminster defense would come up with a big defensive stop as Wade Penn would intercept a Thompkins’ pass and would appear to be control of being able to put the game away. But the Tigers would come up with a huge defensive stand of their own and get the ball back with about 1:47 remaining in the game. And thanks to a huge catch and run by Jordyn Mack that would set Stockbridge up for a first a goal at the one yard line, the Tigers would punch the ball into the end zone as Scott would rush for his second touchdown of the night and Stockbridge would go on to pick up the 28-24 win.
“It was a heck of a ball game, but it’s always good when you win a close one and come out with a victory,” Stockbridge head coach, Thomas Clark said after Friday’s win, praising the Tigers’ defense for their second half performance, despite the one Westminster score. “I knew I had three timeouts left and we just challenged our defense to get a three and out and I knew we’d have a little time on the clock if we’d done that,” Clark said reflecting on the final few series of the game that included the Wildcats intercepting of Thompkins pass. And with the Tigers’ defense answering the challenge and putting the ball back into the offense’s hands, Clark had no doubt that they would be able to finish the drive strong.
“I knew that we’ve got some guys on the offensive side of the ball that really can make some plays, from there we just made it happen,” Clark said of the Mack run that would set up the Scott rushing touchdown. “Game on the line like that, we knew that we were going to go to number four,” Clark added as he praised the running back, who he considers “the best running back in the state of Georgia,” Clark said. Now with the second round behind the, the Tigers will turn their attention to Spalding.