By Doug Gorman
Henry County head coach Mike Rozier wasn't sure how well his football team was going to play Friday night in their Region 4-AAA game against rival Eagle's Landing.
The Warhawks entered the contest with heavy hearts after the sudden death this week of assistant coach John Grall, leaving the entire football program in a state of shock.
Rozier's questions were quickly answered as the Warhawks built a 23-0 lead early in the first quarter, en route to a 53-21 victory.
"His wife ask two things of us," said Rozier. "That we play the junior varsity game on Thursday and that we go out and win tonight. We were able to do both of those things."
Most of the Warhawk football team grew up around Grall. Grall coached many of the players at the middle school level, was an assistant wrestling coach and began working with the varsity football team this year.
The Warhawks spread the offensive wealth throughout the night en route to the win. Josh Cough finished the game with 74 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown, Stephon Brown added 45 yards on three carries and a touchdown, Jonathan Jean-Bart finished the game with 44 yards on six carries.
But it was quarterback Chris Moody who stepped up his game. The junior quarterback rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He also helped the Warhawks move the ball through the air, finishing the game 6 for 10 for 110 yards and two touchdown passes.
Despite the loss, Tyler Teknipp threw three TD passes to help account for the Golden Eagles' scores.
Henry County improved to 5-3 overall and 5-1 in region play, while Eagle's Landing was left searching for its first win of the season, dropping to 0-8 overall and 0-6 in the league.
"I think we played pretty well," Rozier said. "It was a little sloppy with penalties, but we came through and got the victory."
Henry County took control of game just minutes into the contest when a miscue on an Eagle's Landing punt resulted in a safety.
The Warhawks quickly turned the 2-0 lead into a 9-0 margin when Brown added a 12-yard touchdown run.
An Eagle's Landing fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Warhawks the football back in good field position and Jean Bart was in the end zone after a 4-yard just two plays into the drive. The score gave the Warhawks a 16-0 lead with 8:05 still left in the first quarter.
Jean-Bart's TD then gave the Warhawks a 23-0 lead.
Early in the second, the Golden Eagles' cut lead to 23-7 when Teknipp connected on a 54-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Marquis Griffin.
The Warhawks then added two touchdowns in the final 3:01 of the first half. Couch's 2-yard run gave Henry County a 30-7 lead and after Chris Amos intercepted a pass to give the ball back to the Warhawks Phillip Staples scored on a 16 yard screen pass from Moody for a 37-7 lead at the half.
Eagle's Landing attempted to comeback on the first drive of the second half when Teknipp connected on a couple of passes, including a 20-yard pass to cousin Bill Teknipp to open the series.
Five plays later, Tyler Teknipp hit Aldarien Bryant on a 26-yard score, cutting the lead to 37-14.
Moody then added the first of his two scores on a 1-yard run to cap the Warhawks' first drive of the second half to increase the lead to 44-14.
The shoot-out continued as Teknipp hit Griffin on a 25-yard pass for the Golden Eagles' final score of the game.
Late in the game, Moody called his own number and found the end zone for the second time on a 50-yard run to increase the Warhawks' lead to 51-21.
Henry County then added its final score of the night on a run by Allen Williams.