By Phil Albert
How sweet it is!
Henry County ended its nightmarish 20-game losing streak with a gigantic 20-14 win over visiting Stockbridge Friday night, improving to 1-3 overall while dropping Stockbridge to 0-5.
For Henry coach Mike Rozier, it may as well have been the state championship game.
"It's not a monkey off my back, but it's a big, big gorilla," he laughed while wiping water off his head. His players gave him the celebratory water bath after the game.
The last Warhawk victory was at Tara Stadium against Forest Park in 2001.
Henry thoroughly dominated last night's game and used trickery to whip the Tigers. The Warhawks dominated offensively and defensively, but turnovers led to both Tiger touchdowns.
Henry outgained Stockbridge, 349-103, with 94 of Stockbridge's yards coming in the second half. Stockbridge was also whistled for 115 penalty yards, including several unsportsmanlike conduct penalties late in the game.
"It was an unbelievable effort," Rozier added. "I hope our guys have learned how to believe in themselves. The coaching staff did a great job and these guys just worked hard."
Senior running back Tommy Davis rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offensive attack and senior quarterback Michael Rozier added 106 passing yards. Rozier also intercepted Stockbridge quarterback Willie Copeland on the last play of the game.
"We ran and threw and really mixed it up well tonight," Michael said. "We knew we could run the ball. It was good play calling by coach (Todd) Wells."
Although forcing Stockbridge into four turnovers, it was Henry's turnovers that led to both Tiger touchdowns.
Henry took the opening possession and in eight plays, moved the ball to the Stockbridge 4. But the Tigers returned a fumble 96 yards for the score, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead.
One play later, Henry tied the game on a 60-yard run by Davis.
The game remained 7-7 at halftime.
Opening the third quarter, Henry stopped Stockbridge on three downs and a good punt return gave the hosts possession at the Tiger 32.
Six plays later, Ernest Duffey raced 12 yards for the score and Chris Clark's second extra point gave Henry a 14-7 lead.
Warhawk Steven Bymes intercepted a tipped Copeland pass at the Tiger 38 and seven plays later, Davis added his second touchdown on an eight-yard run. Clark missed the extra point.
Late in the third quarter, Stockbridge's Adam Gray recovered a Henry fumbled punt return at the Warhawk 15 and two plays into the fourth quarter, Copeland sneaked one yard for the score, cutting the margin to 20-14.
Henry would miss on two field goals in the fourth quarter and Rozier's interception on the final play stopped the Tigers' final drive, reaching the Warhawk 39 yard line.
Senior Mark Gettis led a strong defensive showing as the Warhawks rushed Copeland all night. The Warhawk defense held Copeland to 9-of-23 passing and two interceptions and also sacked Copeland seven times for minus-76 yards.
"Mark is a warrior," coach Rozier said. "He plays full tilt and is all over the field."
Henry stays at home next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. contest against Morrow.