A steady passing attack enabled Tattnall Square to stay within striking distance of Stratford Academy on Friday. The Eagles, however, had a higher gear in the form of Quintez Cephus.
The athletic senior caught three passes for a touchdown and ran another in for a score as the Eagles kept pace with Twiggs County at the top of GHSA Region 7A-A with a 41-14 win.
Cephus caught four passes for 65 yards to go with 40 yards on the ground. It all added up to 105 total offensive yards on five touches. And it could have been more. The Eagles (4-2) had two touchdown passes of 32 and 26 yards to Cephus negated by penalties in the second quarter.
“He’s an outstanding player, the quarterback does a good job of getting him the ball,” Stratford head coach Mark Farriba said. “The line gave him good protection at times.”
The Eagles overcame being whistled for 105 penalty yards. O’Showen Williams helped Stratford sustain its ground attack as well, rushing 12 times for 100 yards.
The job of Eagles quarterback Sim Patrick was an easy one when Stratford found itself near the end zone Friday. Passes of 26 and 25 yards helped the Eagles rally from an early 7-0 deficit to lead 14-7 at the end of a quarter.
And after the Eagles’ Larson McDaniel pounced on a second-quarter fumble by the Trojans, Cephus made sure that Stratford took advantage. But instead of through the air, Cephus struck on the ground. He took a handoff and quickly found open space, rushing 40 yards for a 21-7 Eagles lead.
The Trojans (3-3) leaned on their passing attack and found success while doing so, passing for 187 yards. Trojans quarterbacks Destin Mack and Miles Morris combined to go 16-of-39 with a touchdown and an interception thrown by Mack. Morris was 9-of-24.
“We came out and fought hard and fought from start to finish,” Tattnall Square head coach Clint Morgan said. “They’ve got a really good football team and deserve to where they are, and we have a ways to go, but I saw improvement from last week to this week, so we’ll keep working and keeping trying and work to get better.”
Tattnall got off a strong start by forcing a three and out on the Eagles’ first drive, and the effort was followed up on the offensive side of the ball. Keeping their opening drive alive with a fourth-down pass from quarterback Destin Mack to Jimmy Marshall, the Trojans were first on the board when Zion Blasingame scored on an eight-yard run.
The Trojans pulled within a touchdown at halftime, trailing 21-14 after Miles Morris replaced Mack under center. Driving downfield, Morris found Garrett Houston on a slant, and he took it in the rest of the way for an eight-yard score.
The Trojans were unable to keep pace in the second half. A major part of that had to do with Stratford’s secondary, which held Marshall without a reception in the final two quarters after he hauled in six passes for 68 yards in the first half.
“We just tried to find a way to get a little more pressure, I felt like our guys raised their intensity level,” Farriba said.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from Patrick to Cephus and a long drive capped by a three-yard run by O’Showen Williams blew the game open in the third quarter with the Eagles in front 34-14. Tyler Jordan’s 7-yard run in the fourth quarter gave Stratford its final score of the night.