WARNER ROBINS — The year had changed, as had a fair portion of the roster, and the uniforms and helmets were different.
The offense and Jake Fromm were the same. That was not good for Veterans.
Fromm missed on his first two passes, completed 12 straight and had 340 passing yards at halftime as Houston County rolled to a 41-13 win Thursday night before a capacity crowd at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
“Being in that environment, with that many people in the stands, I think it’s going to be good,” Houston County head coach Von Lassiter said. “We played pretty good. We got some guys some reps under the lights.”
Fromm cruised passed the 5,000-yard mark in career passing in the first quarter as the Bears took a 21-0 lead. He did that on a 29-yard pass to Jaylen Searcy, one snap before connecting with Amari Colbert for a 65-yard touchdown.
Fromm played for two possessions in the third quarter, the Bears punting on the first and getting a huge touchdown run on the second. He finished 18-of-26 for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bears christened the new turf at McConnell-Talbert in style, the defense keeping Veterans quarterback Logan Byrd in check much of the night. Byrd was 9-for-19 for 137 yards passing and ran 10 times for 23 yards. Desjuan Harris had a solid night with 104 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown on 25 carries. Rochelle Dinkins was Byrd’s favorite target with five catches for 89 yards before going out with an ankle injury.
“Logan threw the ball really well, I thought,” Lassiter said. “I was really proud that Logan didn’t hurt us running the ball, because he’s such a good player. I was concerned about him running the football.”
But the Bears took the suspense out of the game early. Houston County scored on three straight first-quarter possessions on runs from Chris Brinson and Javon West and the long pass to Colbert.
The Warhawks pulled within 21-7 on a nice Dinkins over-the-shoulder catch for a 17-yard score, but Houston County countered with a 90-yard drive on seven plays, Colbert getting open down the seam for a 45-yard score and a 28-7 lead with 6:38 left in the half.
Payton Johnson got open for a 15-yard touchdown reception on Houston County’s next trip, and the Bears missed a 32-yard field goal on the final play of the half. Fromm completed passes to Searcy, Johnson, Colbert, Khenon Walker and Eli Watson in the first half, while the revamped running game with Brinson and West teamed for 110 yards in the first half. West finished with 101 yards and Brinson 97.
Brinson turned in one of the top plays of the night late in the third quarter, taking a handoff to the right side, finding nothing but bodies, reversing field to the left and going 72 yards for the touchdown. That put the Bears up 41-7 with 3:56 left in the third.
Houston County hosts Grovetown on Sept. 5 to open GHSA Region 2-AAAAA play while Veterans hosts Macon County at Perry in a non-region game on Sept. 4.