By Derrick Mahone
Some players did back flips. Others shouted. On several unsuccessful occasions, Mount Zion players tried to give coach Jamie Aull a celebration Gatorade bath.
No championships were won on Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium, but it was hard to tell from the reaction of the Mount Zion players after the team's 21-19 win over Creekside.
Both teams entered the Region 4-AAAA contest unbeaten.
"This was a huge win," Mount Zion quarterback Montel Buchanon said. "But every game in this region is huge. I think a lot of people underestimated us because we didn't have blowout wins in our first two games. We didn't doubt ourselves. We believed."
Buchanon had to sit out the first quarterback because of disciplinary reasons, but once he got on the field, he made a huge difference in the team's offense.
Austin Smith got the start for the Bulldogs, who improved to 3-0 overall and in the region. He was 2 of 8 for eight yards, and led the Bulldogs on a touchdown drive. Josh King scored on an 8-yard run with 10:45 remaining in the second quarter as the Bulldogs took a 7-6 lead.
"Montel changes the offense for us because he is athletic and very savvy," Aull said. "He is a very gusty football players."
Down 19-14 with 8:26 remaining, the Bulldogs defense came up with a big play. Mount Zion defensive back Jabari Cooper recovered a fumble at the Seminoles' 27-yard line.
It took seven plays before Buchanon found Smith in the corner of the end for the go-ahead touchdown with 6:14 remaining. After that, it became a defensive struggle with the Bulldogs winning out.
For the game, Buchanon was 5 of 8 for 79 yards and a touchdown.
"I knew that Austin could beat the defensive back," Buchanon said. "I believed in him more than the defensive back. I knew he couldn't stop him."
Said Smith: "It was a perfect pass."
An interception by Marcus Swint with 12 seconds on the clock sealed the win for Mount Zion.
Creekside scored all 19 of its points in the first half as it lead 19-7 at the intermission. The Bulldogs limited Creekside to only 33 second half yards.
"We went in at halftime and made the adjustments," Aull said. "We have been down before, but I told the guys that we were going to make the comeback. Our defense came out and believed that we could win the game. We just played our gust out, and they made some plays."
In the first half, Evan Berry three for three touchdowns to give the Seminoles the lead. Berry is the younger brother of NFL first round draft choice Eric Berry, a former all-state player at Creekside. He was 12 of 21 for 112 yards and an interception.
Quartterrio Morgan led the Mount Zion ground attack with 138 yards and a 4-yard touchdown to pull the Bulldogs to within 19-14 with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Morgan picked up 46 yards on 10 carries to lead the offense.
"Our defense is right," Morgan shouted. "I don't see many teams putting up a lot of points on us. They are humble, but they are hungry. This is my senior year, and coach said that I had to put this team on my back. I have to expect to run the ball a lot this season."