SANDERSVILLE -- In an uncharacteristic off night offensively, No. 1 Washington County still “survived and advanced” with a 31-7 victory over Callaway in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs in the House of Pain.
Despite Golden Hawks quarterback A.J. Gray being held below 100 yards both rushing and receiving for the first time all season and losing a pair of fumbles in the red zone, the dual-threat star scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second half for the top seed to advance to the quarterfinals next week against Pierce County.
“This time of year when you get a game 31-7 against a great football team in the second round -- if you have an off night and can do that I’ll take it,” Washington County head coach Joel Ingram said. “There’s no such thing as an ugly win.”
The Golden Hawks have been averaging 54 points per game but led only 14-7 at halftime Friday night. WACO, however, took the third-quarter kickoff and drove 85 yards in just five plays, capped by Gray’s 15-yard touchdown then added a 27-yard Wesley Ruberia field goal on the next possession for a 24-7 lead.
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Gray set up his own 5-yard touchdown with an interception and return that led to first-and-goal in the fourth quarter to seal it.
Gray finished with 84 rushing yards and 98 passing but was picked up by tailbacks Darius Tucker (118 yards, touchdown) and Justin Lawrence (88 yards, touchdown). WACO drove four other times into the red zone on the night without scoring.
“I doesn’t bother me as long as my teammates are doing their part it don’t matter,” Gray said of his below-average statistics. “I could have no yards. ... We’ve just got to work on the little mistakes on offense and score more points.”
“Even Superman has a couple down games,” Ingram said of Gray. “He makes so many plays that when he doesn’t make one it’s like it’s magnified. He’s just trying to do too much and his supporting cast wasn’t giving him much help (Friday) -- receiver-wise I was really disappointed tonight in the way we threw and caught the ball.”