Peach County picked a good time to turn in one of its strongest performances of the season as the Trojans dominated North Murray 49-7 to advance to the GHSA Class 3A quarterfinals Friday night.
It was all Trojans from the opening kickoff.
After forcing a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Peach County took over at the Mountaineers’ 12-yard line and scored one play later on a pass from Antonio Gilbert to Kearis Jackson.
Jackson set up the Trojans’ first-and-goal on the next possession with a 54-yard punt return that was capped by a 7-yard Chris Gibson run. It was one of four touchdowns on the night for the junior tailback.
Jackson went on to a big game of his own. He followed up a 10-catch outing a week ago in a blowout over Tattnall County with 220 all-purpose yards in the first half and three scores, including a 60-yard punt return.
Peach County led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 49-0 at the break to ensure the running clock in the second half. Its defense did not surrender a first down until just seconds remained in the second quarter.
Three who mattered
Jackson: The four-star prospect tormented North Murray with punt returns of 60, 54 and 37-yards as the Mountaineers chose to keep kicking to him in the first quarter. He finished with four catches for 80-yards.
Gibson: He carried the ball just nine times in the first half, but four of those went for touchdowns. He finished with 67 yards rushing.
Gilbert: Yet another junior, Gilbert continued his efficient quarterback play by going 8-of-9 for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His best throw of the night came on a 45-yard pass down the seam to Jackson, who had ran past the North Murray secondary.
Injury watch: Speedy James Jackson, the other half of Peach County’s dynamic backfield combination with Gibson, was injured on special teams early in the first quarter before amassing a single carry. He did not return and his status for next week is unknown.
They said it
Peach County head coach on the dominance of his team: “We scored 45 in the first half against Pike (County), and I thought that was about the best we could do, but the kids played well (Friday).”
Campbell on Kearis Jackson’s added involvement in the playoffs: “We’re just getting him involved a little bit more. I think team’s are having to worry about other guys as well because they’re making plays. He hasn’t been beat up all year, and this is the time for players to get loose.”
Campbell on the response of his defense after a poor tackling performance at times in the opening round: “I think they got the message this week. Defense wins championships and they’ve got to understand that. We’re going to have to continue to play well and get better.”
Peach County will travel to Westminster on Friday after losing the coin toss for home field advantage. Westminster advanced by beating Savannah 45-21.