BARNESVILLE — The turnovers came so often that Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens had no idea how many his defense and special teams forced Friday night against Bleckley County.
When told seven, Stephens gave a fist pump.
“That’s a good night,” he said.
Fourth-ranked Lamar County (7-0-1, 5-0 GHSA Region 4-AA) scored points following each of the first five turnovers to roll to a 39-7 win over No. 10 Bleckley County to essentially lock up the region championship.
Lamar County quarterback Lance Austin rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another as the Trojans scored 29 unanswered points. His twin brother Lawrence Austin rushed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass, and Quay Searcy had two interceptions.
“We really thought we would be in a close game,” Lawrence Austin said. “We just kept getting the turnovers, and we kept scoring points.”
The Royals (6-2, 4-1) stayed close to the Trojans in total yards for most of the game, but they couldn’t find a way to take care of the ball.
The first time it touched the ball, Bleckley County muffed a punt.
Lamar County scored a few plays later on a 12-yard run by Lance Austin. The sequence was replayed over and over for the Royals like a bad movie on a loop.
Four of the first five turnovers came inside Bleckley County’s own territory. The Trojans scored 30 of their first 33 points off those five turnovers.
Bleckley County only trailed by three points in the second quarter following a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tavon Ross to Dre Pitts. The Royals were behind by three with less than four minutes to play in the first half when Alex Gardner blocked Ross’ punt and gave the Trojans the ball inside the Royals’ 5-yard line.
Lance Austin scored from a yard out to put the Trojans up 17-7 heading into the half.
Things really unraveled from there for the Royals.
Bleckley County fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, and the Trojans scored on a field goal. The Trojans then turned an interception and a fumble recovery into a pair of touchdowns.
Lamar County added its final touchdown on a 43-yard run by Lawrence Austin. The junior running back ran all the way to his right, reversed field and eventually raced to the touchdown. Lance Austin knocked out two defenders with a huge block to send his brother the final few yards.
“I saw the block, and I had a smile on my face when I ran back to him,” Lawrence Austin said. “He’s a football player.” Lamar County only had one back rush for more than 80 yards — Lawrence Austin rushed for 82 — and the Trojans only passed for 40 yards.
“We wanted our defense to beat their defense, and we thought we could win if we did that,” Stephens said. “Our defense beat their defense.”