Harris County figured out how to slow down Westside for much of the second half Thursday night at Mercer University Stadium, but the Seminoles regained their offensive form just in the nick of time.
A scoring drive taking up more than six minutes gave the Seminoles a 35-29 lead with less than three minutes to play, and Westside held on as a fourth-down pass by Harris County quarterback Ta’Quon Marshall fell incomplete with a little more than a minute to go, allowing the Seminoles to escape with the victory.
Westside, which led 19-7 late in the first half before a weather delay of an hour and 17 minutes, benefited greatly from the running of Cedric Hollingshed. The senior carried the ball 23 times for 160 yards, scoring twice. The second of those appropriately came on the game-winning drive when Hollingshed handled most of the offensive load, keeping the clock going to move the Seminoles downfield and keeping the Tigers’ explosive offense on the sidelines.
Harris County, limited to 97 first-half yards, found its footing in the second half as Marshall, a Georgia Tech commitment, found ways to make plays either by running or with quick passes -- benefitting from the powerful running of Tae Crowder -- as the Tigers rolled up 219 offensive yards in the second half. During that same span, Marshall rushed for 56 yards and threw for 47 after being neutralized in the first half.
Crowder’s second-half rushing numbers? Nine rushes for 52 yards.
With its offense clicking, Harris County was difficult to stop. A touchdown pass from Marshall to Cortez Johnson sandwiched between a pair of Crowder touchdown runs tied the score for Harris County at 29 with 9:36 to play after trailing 19-0 at one point.
That early hole, however, ended up being the undoing of the Tigers’ hopes of victory.
For much of the first half, Westside shut down Harris County on offense by dominating the trenches. And with its own brand of big plays, the Seminoles took an early lead. Westside claimed a 10-0 advantage on a Hollingshed one-yard touchdown set up by a 52-yard screen pass from Westside quarterback Dre’Quan Taylor to Gerimie Mitchell. The Seminoles also took an early 3-0 lead on a Blaine Halvorson field goal from 30 yards out.
Westside’s Devantae Smith sacked Marshall in the end zone during the second quarter for a safety, and Marquez Sanford’s 24-yard interception return for a score extended the first-half Westside lead to 19 points.