North Oconee High School’s football team improved to 4-5 overall with a 4-1 record in Region 8-AAAA last Friday night with a 31-7 win over Cedar Shoals High School.
The Titans did plenty right in their rout of the Jaguars but made plenty of mistakes as well.
North Oconee head coach Tyler Aurandt said that he expects this Friday’s matchup against Jefferson High School will be a “battle.”
He also said the Titans are going to need to avoid any and all mistakes to defeat the Dragons in the last game of the regular season.
“There's going to be a lot of momentum swings,” Aurandt said. “Being able to handle those ups and downs throughout the ball game is going to be key and then staying poised and not getting frustrated as well. We are literally going to have to take this one play by play and series by series, because we expect it to be a battle”
Senior quarterback Bubba Chandler threw a 45-yard touchdown to junior Eli Warrington on the first drive of the game against Cedar Shoals.
Chandler then threw a 38-yard touchdown to sophomore Khalil Barnes to go up 14-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Titans had a fumble, and then allowed a fake punt attempt to succeed and that led to the Jaguars’ only touchdown of the night.
The Titans held strong and scored a 35-yard field goal near the end of the quarter to lead 17-7 at half.
Chandler said that repeating a fast start against Jefferson important.
The quarterback added, though, that the Titans have to be sure not to stumble like they did with their four turnovers throughout the game.
“All year, they haven't played behind anyone,” Chandler said about Jefferson. “They've always been ahead or right in the game with someone, and then they pull away third and fourth quarter, but we fully plan on taking them right to the very end.”
The Titans had two more turnovers in the second half against the Jaguars, including Chandler’s only interception on fourth-and-goal in the middle of the third quarter.
The North Oconee defense held Cedar Shoals. That allowed Chandler to later score a 7-yard rush early in the fourth quarter, putting the Titans up 24-7.
“We had four plays on the half-yard line,” Aurandt said about Chandler’s interception and the unsuccessful plays that preceded the turnover. “We should not have even had to get the fourth down if we had taken care of some things there.”
North Oconee’s last turnover and touchdown came within a few plays late in the fourth quarter.
The Titans recovered a short punt after another Titan fumble.
Soon afterward, North Oconee punched in a short fullback run to lead 31-7.
“We know what's at stake Friday,” Chandler said. “This could be our last time as seniors we ever play on this field. Even if we do win, we got to beat them by a certain amount of points.”
The Titans would need to win this Friday and score 31 points more than the Dragons to take the No. 1 seed in Region 8-AAAA.
That is a tall task against a team that has only allowed 69 points on the season.
The Dragons are 8-0. They are ranked No. 14 among Georgia high school teams according to ratings on MaxPreps.com.
“I don't know that this one's too much different than any other one,” Aurandt said about Jefferson. “They got good football team and we're going to have to be well prepared and we're going to have to execute at a high level.”