The Titans rebounded from an opening-week loss and notched their first win of the season last Friday.
North Oconee hosted Ola and won 31-20, marking the Titans’ first win of 2021. They did so with their second starting quarterback in as many games.
Louden Schnake got the starting nod last week after Gavin Black started in the season opener against Oconee County. Schnake completed three touchdown passes to lead the team to victory.
Schnake played in part because Black was “a little bit banged up,” according to head coach Tyler Aurandt.
Aurandt indicated that the starting quarterback spot could be determined on a weekly basis for at least the foreseeable future but he believes all three candidates – Schnake, Black and Max Wilson – will play in some capacity.
“Louden had a really good week of practice and we felt comfortable not trying to push Gavin into a role where he was going to be limited anyway,” Aurandt said. “We went with Louden and he played really, really well. So, now we're kind of sitting in a situation where we've got two kids that have both played well in the first two weeks of the season. We'll see how they practice but they're both so athletic that I think they're both gonna find themselves on the field if they're not at quarterback in some aspect of the game. If one's not playing quarterback, he's probably gonna be lined up in another position somewhere.
North Oconee trailed Ola 6-3 after the first quarter. The Titans got a field goal whereas Ola scored a touchdown and failed on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Then, the Titans got rolling in the second quarter.
Schnake tossed touchdown throws to Brooks Thompson, Mack Brice and Cole Davidson to put North Oconee ahead 24-6 by halftime.
“Their scheme defensively gave us some opportunities to throw the ball down the field a little bit more than we were able to the first ball game,” Aurandt said. “When those opportunities presented themselves, [Schnake] put the ball where it needed to be placed so our guy could make a play.”
Ola scored again on a long pass completion to cut the lead down to 24-14.
Titans running back Dominic Elder scored on a 1-yard carry to make it a 31-13 game with about 11 minutes to play.
Ola scored a touchdown with about three minutes remaining in the game, bringing the lead down to 31-20, but North Oconee recovered an onside kick.
The Titans ran down some of the clock before punting back to Ola. On the ensuing drive, North Oconee’s Brett Biga hauled in an interception to seal the game.
Elder had a big night, rushing for 187 yards. He served as a workhorse, too, because Rodrick Finch missed the game due to what Aurandt characterized as a “lower leg extremity injury.” Elder carried the ball a program-record 38 times.
The rushing success of Elder carried over from week one, where the Titans amassed 230 yards rushing against Oconee.
Aurandt said an impressive start by the offensive line, combined with Elder and Finch’s skills, helped the rushing attack find its groove.
“I think one thing that [the offensive linemen] have really decided to hang their hat on is that they're gonna play physical and they're gonna come off the ball,” Aurandt said. “The backs have done a really good job from a vision standpoint. We've been able to take advantage of some things inside the box that I don't know that we necessarily felt like two or three weeks ago that we'd be at this point this early in the season.”
This Friday, the Titans are scheduled to play at Cambridge High School.
Cambridge has yet to compete this season. Its game last week was canceled after several players tested positive for COVID-19.
Aurandt said that Cambridge head coach Craig Bennett indicated earlier this week that his team will be ready to play.
As for the Titans, they hope to improve upon last week’s effort during the game.
“I think we've just got to continue to build on the things that we've really harped on the first two weeks and continue to build on that momentum that we're coming off of Friday with,” Aurandt said. “Continue to improve the running game. Continue to work on trying to stop the run and be in the right place on defense. We've played well, but there's some things out there that we need to get better at, especially before we get to region play.”