FORT VALLEY -- Chad Campbell had talked to his team all week about the importance of not having a bad game once the playoffs started, because just one could mean the end of the season.
Unfortunately for Peach County, that one game came Friday night as it turned the ball over seven times and could not get past Appling County, dropping a 14-7 contest in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs.
“I don’t know if we have turned the ball over that many times the entire year,” said Campbell, whose season ends with a 10-1 record. “It was one of those nights that we had a lot of things go wrong and couldn’t overcome all of the mistakes. Give credit to Appling County. They came in here ready to play. But you can’t turn the ball over that many times and get a win too often.”
Peach County took the opening kickoff and looked like the team that has averaged 40 points during the season. The Trojans moved 63 yards on nine plays, with James Jackson going the final 3 yards for the score to take an early 7-0 lead.
Nick Searcy intercepted Appling County’s Jason Dhaliwal on the Pirates’ first play from scrimmage, and the Trojans once again went on the move, driving to the Pirates’ 20 before fumbling the ball away, setting the tone for the game.
The second quarter started with Appling County on the move, keeping the ball for 16 plays before being turned away by the Trojans’ defense. But Peach County was unable to move the ball in the second quarter, running only nine plays to the Pirates’ 31. Appling County finally got on the board, midway through the quarter, when a bad snap on a punt could not be fielded by Omar Cervantes, and Devon Moore recovered it in the end zone to tie the score at 7.
Peach County once again was unable to move and Appling County took over with two minutes on the clock. The drive took 10 plays to move 66 yards, before Dhaliwal found Brandon Jones for a 22-yard score to make it 14-7 at halftime.
Neither team was able to get into serious scoring position for much of the second half, but the Trojans had one final chance with a little more than four minutes left. Starting at their own 4, they drove the ball to midfield where they faced a third-and-20. Quarterback Robert Allen found Chavares Hart over the middle for enough yards for the first down, but Hart, trying to get extra yards, fumbled the ball, and Appling County recovered.
Appling County took over with two minutes left and came up with three first downs to end the game.