Jeff Hurndon Photography
Eagle’s Landing Christian running back Joe Walker runs for yardage in the second-ranked Chargers season-opening loss to Briarwood Christian of Alabama last weekend.
After three days to think about his decision, Drew coach Jarrett Laws had no regrets in going for the win, instead of a possible tie in the Titans’ 7-6 loss at No. 3 Cairo.
Drew pulled to within a point of Cairo on the road Friday in the season-opener for both teams on a long touchdown reception by Ray Evola with 1:59 remaining. Laws decided he was going for a go-ahead two-point conversion attempt, but the pass failed and the Titans trailed 7-6.
The Titans recovered the onside kick, but a 35-yard field goal at the buzzer was blocked.
“No regrets,” Laws said Monday. “None whatsoever. I’m not in kissing my sister. We were looking for answers for this team. We wanted to take control of the moment. I believed in them, and that’s why I was going for it.”
Drew has seemed to gain a measure of respect across the state with its gutty performance against the playoff contender. Last season, the Titans lost 40-0 en route to a 2-8 season in its first full varsity schedule.
“When we started this program, we wanted to have a good program, and not just a good team once in a while,” Laws said. “We feel we are headed in the right direction.”
Eagle’s Landing snapped its 11-game losing streak with a dramatic 34-27 come-from-behind win at Rutland. Down 27-6, the Golden Eagles scored 28 unanswered points, which was capped by an 11-play, 71-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Teknipp to his cousin, Bill Teknipp on a third-and-goal play midway through the fourth quarter.
“It was unbelievable,” said coach Joe Teknipp, Tyler’s dad. “It was definitely special seeing the winning play involving cousins.”
Six plays earlier in the go-ahead drive, Tyler Teknipp had seemly scored on a 58-yard run, but it was called back because of a clipping penalty.
Joe Teknipp said he could sense a big momentum shift in the game after his team fill behind in the first half.
“We sort of stood up to the bully and said we weren’t going to take anymore,” Teknipp said. “We only allowed them two first downs in the second half. It was a great win for us.”
There were five coaches making their debuts for teams in the Southern Crescent.
North Clayton coach Max Wiltz was the only one to get a win as the Eagles defeated Riverdale 7-0 at Southern Crescent Stadium. Ironically, Riverdale coach Olten Downs was making his debut for the Raiders.
Morrow’s 68-0 loss to Creekside in last week’s opener was the most points the Mustangs have given up since a 64-0 loss to Westside-Macon during the 2003 season, which covers a 72-game span.
SPECIAL TEAM’S WORK
Eagle’s Landing Christian didn’t have any problems scoring touchdowns — at least in the first half of its opener with Briarwood Christian, when the Chargers scored three times. But what immediately follows the touchdown is something coach Jonathan Gess’ team must smooth out. They went for five points — a pair of two-point conversions and an extra-point kick. Nothing succeeded and it turned out the Chargers could have used those points in what turned out to be a 21-18 loss, their first defeat in their last 19 regular-season games.
Gess said “any one of 5,000 things” could’ve made the difference in such a close game. “We’re going to learn from this and we’re going to be better as coaches and better as players,” he said.
MOVING THE CHAINS
First downs, which seemed to come so easily for ELCA in the first half, were sparing in the second. It wasn’t until their fifth second-half possession that the Chargers gained a first down and that led to a fourth-and-1 in which they couldn’t convert three plays later. The second time they gained a first down, it was followed immediately by the clinching Briarwood interception.
“They made the adjustment,” Gess said of Briarwood.
Staff writer Darryl Maxie contributed to this article.