FORT VALLEY — Chad Campbell worried Washington County could control the clock with its methodical rushing attack.
Campbell was right as the Golden Hawks chewed up clock for the entire first half of their second-round playoff matchup.
Turns out, it didn’t really matter.
No. 2 Peach County (12-0) averaged less than a minute on its first three scoring drives and played suffocating defense against the Golden Hawks’ explosive rushing attack for a 29-6 win on Friday at Anderson Field in the second round of the GHSA Class AAA state playoffs. Peach County will play No. 3 St. Pius X in the quarterfinals.
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The Trojans added a time-consuming drive — by their standards — of their own in the fourth quarter to cap a string of 22 unanswered points.
“We just try to go out and make some big plays,” said running back Travis Richmond, who rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. “We did that, and the defense played a great game.”
The Trojans only ran 12 offensive plays in the first half, but two of them went for long touchdowns on one-play drives for a 14-6 halftime lead.
Richmond’s 69-yard touchdown run pushed the Trojans in front in the first quarter, and the Trojans answered Washington County’s only touchdown with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Taylor to Lamar Zanders.
“Our playmakers made some big plays, but we weren’t doing what we wanted to do on defense,” Campbell said. “They were on the field too long.”
It even took Washington County (10-2) nine plays to go 27 yards for its only points of the game — a 1-yard run by Montravious Gladden.
Washington County had another significant drive on its next possession when it ripped off runs of 22 and 19 yards to move deep inside Peach County territory. The Golden Hawks got to the Trojans’ 1-yard line with less than 10 seconds left in the half, but quarterback Markeist Warthen spiked the ball on fourth down, thinking it was third with two seconds left in the half.
“That was completely my fault,” Washington County head coach Joel Ingram said of the miscommunication. “I take the heat for that. I’ll do better. I feel terrible about it, there’s no excuse for it. I might make myself run hills (today). It’s totally different if we score. The outcome is maybe the same, but we have a chance.”
Peach County’s defense shut the door on Washington County repeatedly in the second half. The Trojans held the Golden Hawks’ without a first down in the second half until the final play of the game.
The Trojans defense held a Washington County offense that averages more than 300 rushing yards per game to 118 yards. They held standout running back Montravious Gladden to 44 yards on 18 carries.
“I think we tried to do too much defensively in the first half,” Campbell said. “They just played ball in the second half. Those kids are hungry.”