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Drew shocks No. 9 Stockbridge

Photo by Jerry Jackson
Drew running back Jadarius West (5) tries to outrun Stockbridge’s Clifford Lowe in the Titans’ 31-7 upset win Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium. Stockbridge entered the game as the ninth-ranked team in Class AAA.

Photo by Jerry Jackson Drew running back Jadarius West (5) tries to outrun Stockbridge’s Clifford Lowe in the Titans’ 31-7 upset win Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium. Stockbridge entered the game as the ninth-ranked team in Class AAA.

On Friday night, the Stockbridge Tigers aimed to make a statement in Georgia Class AAA football by getting off to their first 5-0 start in school history. However, those in attendance at Southern Crescent Stadium saw the Drew Titans as the team that made the statement.

Spearheaded by a fluent offensive attack and stellar defense, Drew pulled off a huge upset in Region 4-AAA with a convincing 31-7 victory over Stockbridge. Head coach Jarrett Laws’ Titans improve to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the region heading into next Friday’s showdown against Eastside. Stockbridge is now 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the region with neighboring rival Henry County looming on the horizon.

“We just told the kids, that was our defining moment on whether the program had actually shown growth or if we were at that stagnated position,” said Laws. “With all the work that we’ve put in, we felt that this was our moment to show that we have taken the next step into being a program.”

Drew had it working on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Titans churned out 372 yards of total offense, including 243 yards rushing in its hurry-up spread formation. Defensively, Drew limited a dangerous Stockbridge team that entered the game averaging 38 points in its first four games to only 279 yards of total offense.

The Tigers were their own worst enemy offensively, especially in the first half. Trailing 3-0 in the first half, Stockbridge twice drove deep into Titan territory, only to come up empty. Quarterback Leon Prunty lost a fumble on the Drew 33-yard line on the Tigers’ second offensive series. The next series, Prunty hit a wide-open Boris Burton in stride, but Burton lost his footing on what would have been a sure touchdown at the Drew 24.

The Tigers eventually missed a short 27-yard field goal attempt.

Drew capitalized on its next possession. On third down and 15 from its own 15, Titan quarterback Jay Murray hit Denzelle Clark for a 25-yard gain and a first down to the Titan 40. Two plays later, halfback Jadarius West took the hand-off around the left corner and scampered 54 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown and a 10-0 Drew lead with 8:20 remaining in the first half.

Following a short Stockbridge punt, Drew struck again. A 17-yard pass from Murray to Bradley Street set up West’s 13-yard scoring scamper with 3:04 remaining to give the Titans a 17-0 lead at halftime.

“We talked about tempo — pressing the issue as much as possible,” Laws said. “We don’t have the size to mash people, so we just have to play like a track team playing football. Envision coming out of the block every play.”

The score stayed 17-0 until Drew took over with 5:58 remaining in the fourth quarter and began to wear down the Tiger defense. The Titans needed seven plays to march 63 yards, capped off by an 11-yard scoring run by Lester Knauls to give Drew a 24-0 lead. But on that series, a skirmish broke out between the two teams, and Drew offensive tackled Antonio Garcia was ejected.

The two teams traded touchdown passes in the final couple of minutes. Prunty hit Evan Jones on a 39-yard strike for Stockbridge with 3:11 remaining. But the Titans answered on a 37-yard scoring pass from Murray to Devon Miller with 3:46 remaining.

Jones finished with 108 yards on 16 carries with the two touchdowns for Drew, followed by 62 yards on six carries by Knauls. Murray completed 11-for-19 passes for 129 yards. For Stockbridge, Prunty completed 7-of-20 passes for 145 yards.