The last time they played in a big game, the Bleckley County Royals couldn’t hold on to the football.
The Royals did the taking away Friday, creating four turnovers on their way to a 28-20 win over Northeast at Thompson Stadium.
“We still haven’t gotten the taste out of our mouths,” Bleckley County head coach Tracy White said about his team’s loss to Lamar County in which the Royals turned the ball over seven times.
Bleckley County (8-2, 6-1 GHSA Region 4-AA) earned the No. 2 seed in the region with the win, giving the Royals the first home playoff game in program history. The Royals host Early County on Friday in the opening round of the Class AA state playoffs.
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“I think we’ll have a pretty good home-field advantage in Cochran,” running back Derrick Farrow said.
Farrow scored on the first play from scrimmage and rushed for 100 yards to lead the Royals. Northeast’s Davion Anderson passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions in the loss.
Farrow’s 72-yard touchdown on the opening play electrified a large crowd that made the drive from Cochran. The Royals came up with an interception two plays later, and it looked as if the Royals were going to have an easy night.
Northeast (8-2, 5-2) wouldn’t give in, and Anderson carried them for much of the game. The southpaw quarterback completed four passes for 64 yards on a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. He finished with 33 pass attempts, completing 20 of them.
Two of the three interceptions, however, came at key moments.
The second one came on a screen pass inside the Northeast 40-yard line. The Royals scored four plays later on a touchdown pass from Tavon Ross.
“We’ve been creating a lot of turnovers, but we did gave some away (Friday),” Northeast head coach Bruce Mullen said.
The Raiders pulled to within two points at 14-12 following a touchdown pass from Anderson to Kory Denson midway through the second quarter. The Royals’ offense remained stagnant for more than a quarter, but the defense continued to make big plays, intercepting Northeast near the end of the half to stop yet another Raiders’ scoring chance.
“The turnovers were big,” White said. “That’s a very good Northeast team, and our defense made some big plays when we needed them.”
Northeast couldn’t get into a rhythm in the second half, and the Royals built a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter following a 25-yard touchdown run by Ross and a 6-yard touchdown run by Farrow.
The Raiders had one final push, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown from Anderson to Denson, but the Royals ran out the clock on the next drive to deny the Raiders’ an opportunity to tie the game.