Shaq Wiggins celebrates another huge win for the Patriots.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
The Sandy Creek Patriots are right where they want to be. After Friday night's 35-0 beating of the Monroe Area Hurricanes, the Patriots are heading back to the Georgia Dome to play for the title.
"That's the best news of the night," said Sandy Creek head coach Chip Walker. "We're back in the state championship, which is where we want to be. No doubt about that."
The Patriots left no doubt that anyone was going to stop their return to the Dome, dominating the tempo from the outset. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Cole Garvin hooked up with Kyle Wilson for 14 yards. On the second play he connected with Antonio Williams for a 35 yard pick up. The first drive would end in a red zone interception, but it was already clear the Patriots could enforce their will.
The Patriot defense would be impenetrable again, pitching their third shut out of the season. They would barely even allow the Hurricanes past midfield. When the Canes started their second drive past the 50, the Patriots quickly turned them away with a Chris Williams fumble recovery.
The offense did not waste the opportunity, quickly chewing up yards through the air. Kyle Wilson started it off with a 12 yard catch before a trio of Demarre Kitt catches did the rest. The third saw Kitt haul in a deep pass up the right sideline, then Kitt sent a defender flailing with a spin move before he raced into the end zone for a 40 yard touchdown. Mitchell McMillin's extra point gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After a gorgeous pass breakup by safety Corey Griffin forced a three and out, the Patriots offense got back to work. Facing a fourth and two from eight yards out, Delvin Weems cut through the middle of the defense for a score and a 14-0 lead.
The defensive line created the next three and out as Michael Henderman and Spencer Roberts sacked the Hurricanes' hopes.
The offense was ready to roll again. On third and 13, Garvin and Kitt connected again for another big one, this time for 36 yards.
Kitt came up huge all night, wreaking havoc on the Hurricanes.
"If there's a better wide receiver in the state, I don't want to play against him," Walker said.
Eric Swinney capped the drive with a beautiful, bruising run for a 12 yard touchdown, stretching the ball just past the goaline.
Monroe thought they finally had a chance to get in the game when they returned the ensuing kick into Sandy Creek territory. They even thought they had a touchdown, but it would be called back for illegal touching to kill the series and their hopes of trimming the 21-0 deficit before halftime.
The Hurricanes missed out on their best chance to score. They would not get another one. Another punishing performance by the Patriot defense would hold all game.
"The defense was great once again," said Walker. "They've played great all year long. They probably don't get the credit they deserve, but they're the backbone of this football team."
Another three and out to start the second half proved devastating for Monroe. Kitt fielded the punt deep and brought it back past midfield. Garvin would find Chancellor Triplett for 14 yards to move the chains. Swinney would finish it off with an eight yard touchdown for a 28-0 lead.
Big sacks by Khari Lain and Chris Williams killed the next two Monroe drives. Lain would deliver the final blow on the following series.
On the first play after Monroe took over Lain picked up a fumble and took it to the house for a touchdown and a 35-0 victory.
Now, for the third time in four season, the Sandy Creek Patriots will play for the state title. They are just one more victory from standing on the top of the heap again.
"We have to go and make sure we play our game," said Walker. "We've just gotta go and win one more."