LEESBURG, Ga. — In a crucial region game against a top-tier opponent on the road Friday night, Harris County had to play its A-brand of football to remain tied atop Region 1-AAAAA.
The Tigers didn’t, and their road to a region championship got significantly harder.
Lee County notched 24 points in a nightmare third quarter for Harris County, taking a commanding lead and rolling to a 44-7 victory over the Tigers.
With the loss, Harris County falls to third in the region behind undefeated Thomas County Central and one-loss Lee County. The Tigers could still take the region’s top spot with wins in their final two games, including the season finale against Thomas County Central, and a Lee County loss.
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“We just have to take the loss and learn from it,” Tigers coach Tommy Parks said after the game. “That’s what good teams do.”
Lee County proved it may be a little more than good in this contest.
After taking a 7-0 lead to the break, the Trojans took complete control in the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns and kicking a field goal to go ahead 31-0.
After Harris County forced a three-and-out on Lee County’s first possession of the quarter, the Tigers muffed the ensuing punt, giving the Trojans a reprieve. They took advantage just three plays later, when quarterback Stephen Collier hit wide receiver Bernard McCray for a 50-yard touchdown.
The Tigers’ next drive lasted only three plays, and their punt on fourth down was blocked to set up Lee County with a first-and-goal. The Harris County defense didn't give way, but Lee County added three on a field goal. An interception on the first play of Harris County’s next drive gave Lee County another opportunity, which it took advantage for a touchdown on its next drive.
It added one more touchdown, this one a 1-yard run by Collier, before the quarter ended. Collier was lethal during the scoring run for the Trojans, completing 7 of 8 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the quarter. He was 18 of 26 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in the game. He also rushed 14 times for 66 yards and a touchdown.
“You can’t make mistakes against good team,” Parks said. “They’ll take advantage of it more times than not.”
Harris County had its own opportunities before the break when its defense forced three turnovers, but, unlike Lee County, it wasn’t able to capitalize on the mistakes.
On seven first-half possessions, the Tigers came away empty handed on all of them. They made it as far as the 19-yard line, but a blocked field goal kept it at zero for the half.
The teams remained scoreless until Collier hit wide receiver J.Q. Quimbley for a 21-yard touchdown pass with five minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the half.
Quimbley had nine catches for 156 yards and two scores.
Harris County got its touchdown on a wild 18-yard run by quarterback TaQuon Marshall as time expired in the third. Taking the snap at the 18-yard line, Marshall ran left before circling back around to the right, retreating from oncoming defenders. He had gone backwards about 15 yards before he caught a block and ran almost all the way to the Lee County sideline before circling back to the left. He took it all the way to the left corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown run.
Marshall finished with 22 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown. Running back Esaias Chapman carried 23 times for 92 yards.
Lee County added two more touchdowns, passes of 51 and 10 yards, respectively, in the fourth quarter.
Parks said he’s confident his team can rebound from the loss and take care of business the rest of the season.
“We’ve been here before,” he said. “We know how to finish the drill.”
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Friday at Lee County
HC 0 0 7 0—7
LC 0 7 24 13—44
LC—J.Q. Quimbley 21 pass from Stephen Collier (Michael Langston kick); 5:32
LC—Bernard McCray 50 pass from Collier (Langston kick); 9:34
LC—Langston 27 field goal; 6:08
LC—Jamal Gardner 4 run (Langston kick); 5:43
LC—Collier 1 run (Langston kick); 2:39
HC—TaQuon Marshall 18 run (Isaac Grimes kick); :00
LC—Devontae Seay 51 pass from Collier (Langston kick); 9:53
LC—Quimbley 10 pass from Collier (kick failed); 7:14
Records: Harris County, 6-2, 2-1; Lee County, 7-1, 2-1. Next: Harris County, Nov. 1 vs. Hardaway; Lee County, Oct. 31 vs. Northside.