JEFFERSON—The universe set out to test Oconee County High School’s football Warriors in every way a football team can be tested.
It was only opening night of the 2019 regular season, but the Warriors faced a season’s worth of adversity on their way to a thrilling 21-20 win over Jefferson High School.
The Warriors sat in the locker room for two hours and were forced into an hour later kickoff time than scheduled after lighting and rain blew through the Jefferson area early Friday evening.
Once the game started the Warriors were put in a hole on the scoreboard with the Dragons getting on the board first. The Warriors responded with a 26-yard touchdown run by senior Max Johnson. The Dragons responded as senior quarterback Colby Clark threw up a jump ball that was won by senior Donsha Gaither keeping the Warriors seven points behind.
The play that seems to sum up what the 2019 Warriors will represent came early in the third quarter when Johnson was all but sacked. Johnson threw off two defenders, stumbled to his right put his hand down to steady himself and delivered a quick left-handed spiral that found Liam Lewis sitting in the middle of the field.
Lewis turned up the field and raced for a 26-yard touchdown. The score only tied the game, but the momentum and belief seemed to jolt through the Warriors’ sideline over the next quarter and a half.
“We’re going to be scrappy; we’re not ever going to win a look test or whip when we get off the bus and sometimes you’ve just got to make a play and he did,” OCHS head coach Travis Noland said. “Liam (Lewis) made a great catch and play after the catch. We’ve got to execute better, but those are all things that are fixable. What you can’t fix on a night like tonight is if you don’t play with heart and they did that.”
The Warriors survived 9 penalties for a total of 75 yards and a long pass from JHS’ Colby Clark to Malachi Starks that again broke the tie. The Dragons went for two points after the score and the Warriors broke up the pass in the endzone.
With 4:19 remaining sophomore Darius Johnson scored from nine yards out to tie the game before the Warriors’ extra point gave them their first lead of the night. The Warriors’ was tasked with putting on the Dragons’ fire in their last charge to field goal range with 50 seconds remaining. Senior Da’Shawn Elder redeemed himself after he and the Warriors’ defense allowed the long touchdown pass a few possessions prior with a game-sealing interception.
For more on this story, see the Aug. 29 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.