CUSSETA, Ga. -- Yes, there were penalties and three turnovers, but Friday night's season opener against Stewart County couldn't have gone much better for the Chattahoochee County Panthers.
ChattCo smothered the Royal Knights, 50-0, not allowing a first down and allowing Stewart County to gain no net yardage, as the Royal Knights finished the game with minus-75 yards of total offense. Stewart County had minus-100 rushing yards on 17 carries and the shutout was the first in ChattCo's seven years of varsity football.
"We play an aggressive style of defense and it makes us vulnerable to the big play, but we want to put pressure on the football," said ChattCo head coach Russell Morgan. "It's risky, but we want to bring as much pressure as we can. To get the first shutout in school history makes the kids feel like champions and that their hard work pays off."
The victory was the biggest for the Panthers since the last time ChattCo beat Stewart County, 66-8, in Lumpkin back in 2009 and was the third straight win for the Panthers over the Royal Knights in the series between the two teams.
ChattCo (1-0) got the scoring going on the opening possession of the game, as quarterback Chris Askew hit freshman wide receiver C.J. Afoa for a 62-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead with 8:18 to go in the opening quarter.
The Panthers forced five turnovers in the game.
"The difference with this year's team is their attitude," Morgan said. "Last summer, we'd have 13 or 14 guys come to lift weights in the summer. This year, we'd have 30 or more. The guys are really seeing their work pay off."
Askew finished the game with 103 yards on 13 carries and went 5-for-8 passing for another 136 yards and two touchdowns (along with two interceptions) to lead ChattCo's offense, which had 354 total yards.
Friday at Panther Stadium
Stewart Co. 0 0 0 0--59
ChattCo 8 14 13 15--64
C--C.J. Afoa 62 pass from Chris Askew (Kick failed), 8:18.
C--Safety (Bad snap recovered in end zone), 0:32.
C--Jodie Duke 7 run (Thomas Morgan kick), 10:14.
C--Afoa 10 pass from Askew (Morgan kick), 5:50.
C--Duke 2 run (Kick blocked), 8:50.
C--Ladarus Taylor 15 fumble return (Morgan kick), 8:00.
C--Kamerion Lindsey 17 run (Morgan kick), 7:53.
C--Daquan Conn fumble recovery in end zone (Brandon Bourage pass from Macolm
Records: Stewart County 0-1, ChattCo 1-0. Next: Stewart
County at Thomasville Sept. 7, ChattCo at Terrell County Sept. 7.