Rutland passes first region test, pulling past West Laurens in second half
George Collins knew a test would come in region play.
The Rutland head coach didn’t have to wait long for that to play out.
After three relatively easy games to start the season, the Hurricanes ran into their first adversity of the season Friday at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex.
The Hurricanes (4-0) responded well, scoring a pair of second-half touchdowns to beat West Laurens 26-15 in the GHSA Region 2-AAAA opener for both teams.
“This region is tough,” Collins said. “You don’t have off nights. I felt like we’d face a challenge, and West Laurens has a solid team.”
Montez Cheney rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries, and Shakenneth Williams caught a 45-yard touchdown pass in the victory. Cheney’s performance followed a 200-yard, five-touchdown effort in a win over Central last week.
“Things didn’t come easy, but I thought they fought through it,” said Collins, who estimated his team played in front of the biggest crowd since he arrived in 2008.
After an uneventful first half, Rutland stretched its lead to 19-7 on the 45-yard touchdown from Timori Northcutt to Williams, who was crowned homecoming king during halftime. It was one of just two catches on the night for the Georgia-bound receiver, but he made that one count, splitting defenders on the way to the end zone.
Cheney scored on the Hurricanes’ next possession, crashing through from 7 yards out two plays after he raced 53 yards to push the Hurricanes lead to 26-7.
West Laurens scored with 3:46 remaining on a 6-yard touchdown by Nick Turner -- he scored both Raiders touchdowns -- and cut the deficit to 11 points following a 2-point conversion.
The Raiders couldn’t recover the onside kick, and the Hurricanes held on for the double-digit margin of victory.
“Everybody stayed focused and we kept the team together and just played our game,” Williams said.
The victory continues Rutland’s best start in program history, but the Hurricanes should face a tough test from Veterans on Thursday at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex. The Warhawks upset Westside on Thursday.
“No matter who we face, we have to go out there and play well to win,” Williams said.
The Hurricanes had to overcome 16 penalties Friday, but an early lead helped. Cheney scored on a pair of 4-yard touchdown runs to push Rutland to a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter.