Photo by Jerry Jackson / Drew didn’t have much of an answer for Union Grove fullback Derrick Craine (No. 40), who had 288 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 34-33 come-from-behind win Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium.
RIVERDALE — A funny thing happened along the way to what appeared to be the Drew High School football team’s coronation as Region 4-AAAAA, Division A champions.
Visiting Union Grove refused to keep playing along in its role as the unassuming patsy, roaring back from a 22-point first-half deficit to stun the Titans, 34-33, at Southern Crescent Stadium on Friday night. Bruising tailback Derrick Craine added the icing on the cake, racing in from 82 yards with 8:50 left to cap a 23-0, second-half blitz that pushed his team’s record to 8-1, 5-0 in the subregion, going into next week’s date against McIntosh.
Craine, who earlier in the day had a fever of 101 degrees, finished with 288 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries to fuel the stunning comeback.
“We’d been in this situation before,” Craine said. “We never panic. It’s always just a matter of if we get down, we just keep fighting, keep fighting and keep fighting. That’s what we did tonight.”
Drew, which fell to 6-3, 3-2 in the subregion, with the devastating loss, will play Northgate next week. The Titans trailed 34-33 with a little more than three minutes left, but saw their last real chance at pulling out a win dissipate with a costly roughing-the-punter penalty on a Union Grove fourth-and-17 from the visitors’ 31-yard line.
Such a nightmare scenario hardly seemed possible following a Marquis Terry 64-yard punt return with 1:22 left in the first half that gave the Titans what many figured to be an insurmountable 33-11 advantage.
But the Wolverines refused to go away, relying on big plays to score two quick touchdowns to start the second half and climb back into contention. The first was a gorgeous 65-yard scoring strike from quarterback Jonathan Slade to speedy wide receiver Caleb Ham just three plays into the second half. The son of former Georgia Southern star quarterback Tracy Ham got himself open along the left sideline with a beautiful double-move that took advantage of an aggressive Titans secondary.
Ham played a big role again just moments later, hauling in a Slade pass on a square-in route before pitching the ball to a streaking Craine, who completed the hook-and-ladder play by dashing the remaining 64 yards for a touchdown that closed the gap to 33-27 a little more than three minutes into the second half.
Drew made things looked so easy in the first half, but never got untracked offensively in the second as Union Grove played more sound assignment football and was more sure in its tackling in the open field. The Titans managed just 72 yards of total offense in the second half after mustering 211 in the first.
“The kids didn’t give up,” an elated Union Grove coach Paul Burgdorf said. “They played their tails off.”
Junior running back Lester Knauls totaled 127 yards, while Terry accounted for two touchdowns to pace Drew.
The Titans’ superior speed looked to be too much for their visitors early on. Drew rode the strength of a pair of Jay Murray touchdown passes in the first period to race to anearly 15-0 lead. The Titans had other opportunities to pad their lead early on, but failed to execute at key moments, allowing their guests to hang around until they finally got rolling in the second half.