By Doug Gorman
The turnover bug took a bite out of both Henry County and Stockbridge Friday night, but when the dust settled, Henry County was left standing to enjoy a 14-7 overtime homecoming victory.
"This was a huge win for these kids," Henry County coach Mike Rozier said. "We have a lot of young kids who are new to the program, but we have some veterans who know how to do it. Three years ago, those guys were freshman, and it seemed like we had games like this every week.
Rozier knows his team is fortunate to escape with the overtime win.
"(Coach) Kevin Whitley is doing a heck of job over at Stockbridge and this was a great game tonight."
Henry County gave the ball back to Stockbridge six times during the Region 4-AAA clash, and the Tigers turned it over four times in a game that was scoreless until the fourth quarter.
The Warhawks grabbed the momentum on the first play from overtime when quarterback Chris Moody connected with Phillip Staples on a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Warhawks the lead. Moody finished the game 8 of 13 passing for 107 yards and he also rushed for 104 yards.
After the Warhawks' overtime score, things turned sour for the Tigers. On its first series in overtime, Stockbridge quarterback Leon Prunty converted a third-down-15 pass to Spencor Hall into a first down, but two plays later and wirth the Tigers knocking on the Warhawks' goal, the game end when Henry County defensive lineman Delvin Tomlinson crashed through the line of scrimmage, forcing the fourth Stockbridge turnover.
"I just had to go down inside, and they did an option, and I saw the quarterback cut back so when I so the opportunity to take the ball, I went after it," Tomlinson said.
Neither team scored until midway through the final quarter. The Tigers broke on the scoreboard first when Prunty connected on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Lindsey with 9:31 to go in the game. Cody Whipple added the extra point and the Tigers were up 7-0.
Henry County tried to answered back on the next series. Stephon Brown started the drive by catching a 39-yard pass, but four plays later the Tigers were back in business after another Warhawk turnover.
But again they couldn't capitalize and one play later, they coughed up the football too.
Henry County took advantage of the Tigers' miscue, and this time put the ball in the end zone when Jonathan Jean-Bart capped an 8-play, 23-yard drive with 3:20 left in regulation. Michael Landis' extra point tied the game at 7-all.
The key play on the drive came when Moody rushed for nine yards on fourth down to keep the Warhawks; in possession of the football. Three plays later, Jean-Bart was in the end zone for the tying score.
"That was a huge play for us," said Rozier.
Henry County fumbled the football on its first three series of the game. The most costly coming midway through the second period when it lost the football at the Stockbridge one
Stockbridge, which is trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1983, came into the game riding a wave of momentum. The Tigers had won four-straight contests before the heartbreaking loss, but dropped to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in region action.
Despite the loss Prunty had 131 all purpose yards, helping move the first down sticks through the air and on the ground.
Henry County has now won two games in a row and is 3-3 overall, and also 3-1 in the region.