The North Oconee Titans overcame a slow start to defeat the Putnam County War Eagles 40-14 on Friday.
Senior running back Adam Weynand led the way in the first half for the Titans, scoring two touchdowns to give the team a lead they would not look back from.
“I feel like [keeping the ball moving] is my job,” Weynand said. “I’ve got to do what I got to do to help this team out.”
Following a lightning delay that forced the game to start nearly an hour late, the Titans struggled mightily to find any source of offensive rhythm early on. A particular issue was holding penalties, as the team had five in the first half.
“We got behind the sticks a bunch, just getting out of position and then reaching and putting ourselves in a worse spot because we got the holding calls,” NOHS head coach Tyler Aurandt said. “It caused us to struggle offensively and we couldn’t get anything going consistently.”
Aurandt said that the main reason for the penalties was the adjustment to live play from summer scrimmages and that he did not expect it to be a continued issue.
Titans’ quarterback Bubba Chandler also had some early struggles, completing just two of his first 10 passes before completing several impressive throws on a drive just before halftime.
On that drive, the Titans received the ball at their own 5-yard line with 1:38 left in the half.
Chandler completed passes of 23 and 47 yards on the drive before finding Max Tumblin fin the end zone from 12 yards out to send the team into the break up 20-0. Chandler and Tumblin would also connect for a score midway through the third quarter.
Chandler said that he felt some nerves early in the game but that it did not take anything special to help him settle into a groove as the game went on.
“I just played my game,” Chandler said.
Defensively the Titans had a strong performance throughout the game. The War Eagles’ only score before garbage time late in the game came on an 86-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the second half.
“[The defense] did a great job all week of communicating and making sure that everyone was playing on the same page and you saw that tonight,” Aurandt said. “We gave up the big play and that’s something we are going to have to work on but I thought that collectively those guys played really well as a group of 11.”
One small area of concern for the Titans was special teams as they missed two extra points on the night. Aurandt said that an injury to starting holder Carter Freeman was part of the reason for the miscues.
“You’re talking about a group that has worked together over-and-over-and-over again then you throw somebody new in there and it just changes up the whole operation a little bit,” Aurandt said.
The win puts the Titans at 1-0 on the year and they will travel to face the Apalachee High School Wildcats on Friday. The Wildcats lost their season opener against Monroe Area High School