HAMILTON, Ga. -- Down 14-3 midway through the third quarter Friday night, the Harris County Tigers had every reason to fold.
However, coach Tommy Parks' squad did no such thing and rallied to post a 24-21 victory over Glynn Academy in the opening round of Class AAAAA state playoffs.
"I'm just proud of our kids," Parks said. "It was a total team effort. Our offense picked up our defense when we needed to, and I'm proud of the way we came together. We have been behind before this season, so we knew how to play."
With the win, Harris County (9-2) will now travel to Creekside, a winner over Lakeside-Evans.
All of the scoring in the first half took place on the final two drives of the opening 24 minutes. After a Harris County punt gave Glynn Academy the ball at its 43-yard line, the Red Terrors went 57 yards in 11 plays, taking 5:58 off the clock before Kenneth Cross scored on a 4-yard touchdown run. Seth Carroll made the extra point to give the Red Terrors a 7-0 lead with just 1:09 remaining before halftime.
Harris County got on the board before the break though, putting together a seven-play, 50-yard drive capped off by a 30-yard field goal by Isaac Grimes on the final play of the half to get the Tigers back to within 7-3.
Glynn Academy scored on its opening drive of the second half to lead 14-3, but Harris County responded with an 11-play, 68-yard drive that TaQuon Marshall finished off with a 10-yard touchdown run. Grimes made the extra point, and Harris County was back within 14-10 late in the third quarter.
On Glynn Academy's next possession, A.J. Howard stepped in front of a Zach Lamper pass and returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead.
The Red Terrors came back themselves with another big play for a touchdown when Emmett Thomas scored on a 60-yard run to give Glynn Academy a 21-17 lead with 10:49 to go in the game.
All game long, Gylnn Academy had kept Harris County's leading rusher Esias Chapman bottled up, but on the Tigers' next possession Chapman broke loose for a 61-yard touchdown run to put Harris County ahead for good at 24-21 with 9:40 remaining. Chapman finished the game with 15 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown.
"(Chapman) led the region in rushing last year, and he did it again this year," said Parks. "What makes him so good is he is so unselfish. He'll get hit almost the entire game, but then he'll break that big one for you."
Glynn Academy had two chances to tie or win the game, but the Harris County defense stopped the Red Terrors on downs at the Tiger 39 and sacked Cross on the game's final play to preserve the win.
Marshall was the spark plug of the Tigers' offense, finishing the game with 67 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while also going seven for eight for 75 yards through the air.
"We had to loosen up their defense so we could get some running holes," Parks said. "(Marshall) made some good passes and is a heck of an athlete. As he goes, our offense goes."Friday at Harris CountyGlynn Academy 0 7 7 7--21
Harris Co. 0 3 14 7--24Second Quarter
G -- Kenneth Cross 4 run (Seth Carroll kick), 1:09
HC -- Isaac Grimes 30 field goal, 0:00Third QuarterG -- Garrison Hurd 8 run (Carroll kick), 6:38
HC -- TaQuon Marshall 10 run (Grimes kick), 2:29
HC -- A.J. Howard 40 interception return (Grimes kick), 0:11
G -- Emmett Thomas 60 run (Carroll kick), 10:49
HC -- Esias Chapman 61 run (Grimes kick), 9:40
Team records: Glynn Academy 6-5, Harris County 9-2 Next: Harris County at Creekside, Friday, second round of state playoffs