Oconee County football defeated previously unbeaten Hart County in last Friday’s region road game.
The Warriors won 35-13, holding the Bulldogs to their lowest score of the season.
The win marked head coach Travis Noland’s ninth win over Hart County, the most victories over any school in his career.
Noland noted his team’s focus during the practice week led to their success Friday night. The Hart County he prepared for was what he saw on the field.
“They're a good football team and they're very well coached and solid,” Noland said. “They had a good plan and our guys just did well as the game went and we were able to pull away at the end.”
Oconee County’s defense continued to be a dominant force on the field. Throughout the season, the Warriors have held their opponents’ offense 12 points below their season averages. Hart averaged 37.7 points per game before facing the Warriors.
The Warriors were just as balanced on their own offense as they were on their defense. Quarterback Jacob Wright completed 12 of his 18 passes and had a fourth down efficiency of 50 percent. He finished the night with 174 passing yards.
Wright put the Warriors on the board first with four minutes remaining in the first quarter by completing a 19-yard pass to Jake Johnson.
Six minutes later, Hart County responded, tying the game on a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Another six minutes passed before Oconee County again took the lead after C.J. Jones rushed in his first of four touchdowns of the night.
The score did not change again by halftime when the Warriors led 14-7. After a quiet first half, Noland rejuvenated his team in the locker room.
“He said play within ourselves. When we play our football, we're hard to beat,” Jones said. “There was a lot of bickering going on in the first half. He told us to cut that out and play our football. Refs were throwing calls, they were letting bad things happen, so we just had to play our game and shut up.”
It didn’t take long before Jones scored his second touchdown, this time on a 24-yard rush. Still, Oconee County remained quiet for the rest of the quarter.
With 8:13 on the clock in the fourth, Jones scored his third touchdown of the night, this time with an 8-yard rush.
Four minutes later, Hart County found momentum with a 3-yard touchdown pass. A missed PAT brought the Bulldogs to only 13 points.
Jones scored his fourth and final touchdown of the night with 44 seconds on the clock. A 7-yard rushing touchdown, the score tied his career high in single-game touchdowns, a record he set the previous week against East Jackson.
Jones finished the game with 183 yards rushed on 31 carries.
Johnson, who recorded his 30th career touchdown with his catch, finished with 142 receiving yards.
“Enjoy it for a little bit. They're a really great team but it's onto the next one,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a bye week so we're gonna rest up and get healthy and then focus on our next match.”
The team now has a bye week before taking on Monroe Area, another undefeated team in Region 8-AAA. It gives the Warriors time to prepare for another potential region championship matchup.
Noland doesn’t plan on changing much at practice in preparation for the Hurricanes. Noland said it doesn’t matter whether they play a winless team or an undefeated team – he will maintain the same approach that’s gotten the Warriors this far.
“We'll stay with our plan that we've had for the last two years and our guys know what to expect and what we're gonna do and we'll transition from our morning practices,” Noland said. “We've been practicing at 6 a.m. since the season started, but we'll start next week and transition to afternoon practices.”