Mountain View's Marvin Elam
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Mountain View continually shot itself in the foot in the first half, compiling 11 penalties in the first 24 minutes.
But with some good defense and a late touchdown before the break, the Bears were able to build a cushion that led to their first Region 7-AAAAAA win. Marvin Elam ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, gaining 95 of those yards in the second half, en route to Mountain View's 24-14 win over Habersham Central.
"The first half, we were still trying to warm up," Elam said. "Some things didn't go our way. We went into halftime, faced some things, and we were able to accomplish some things we needed to (in the second half)."
The turning point in the game was late in the second quarter. Habersham Central's Sloan Austin picked off a pass from Chris Bartlett and returned it 50 yards to the Mountain View 15. Austin was hit hard on the play, stayed down for a while on the sideline and didn't return.
On third-and-15 from the 20, Habersham Central (0-4, 0-2 Region 7-AAAAAA) quarterback Jake Tench threw a pass toward Bennett Black, but the Bears' Kielan Whitner picked it off to hold the score at 3-0. After four runs, Bartlett (9 of 13, 107 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) found Whitner in single coverage, and the sophomore beat Jimmy Fordyce's coverage and scored on a 35-yard touchdown reception.
"It felt awesome," Whitner said. "I was just coming out here and trying to help my team. We needed that touchdown to get on the board."
Coming out of the locker room, Elam and Bartlett started to take control of the game.
On Mountain View's first drive of the third quarter, Elam rushed four times for 27 yards. Bartlett carried the ball three times for 36 yards, including a one-yard TD lunge for a 17-0 lead with 8:41 remaining in the third. Bartlett's long run of the game for 20 yards was set up by a nice perimeter block from wideout Diquan Jeter.
"We moved Chris Bartlett back to quarterback tonight, and he gave us a real boost coming out able to run and throw," Mountain View (2-2, 1-1 Region 7-AAAAAA) coach Doug Giacone said.
Bartlett finished the game with 10 runs for 61 yards and a touchdown.
After falling behind 17-0, Habersham Central began to play a lot better. Tench completed three passes on the ensuing drive for 44 yards and ran twice for six yards. But it was Brandt Rineheart who took the ball in on an 18-yard carry to put the Raiders on the board at 17-7 with 4:46 to go.
From there, the teams traded scores Elam found the end zone with 9:00 to go in the game, and Tench ran it in from three yards with 6:52 to go. After the Bears were forced to punt, Tench made a mistake on his first pass of the next drive and Josh Briggman picked it off for Mountain View. The Bears were able to run the final 4:18 off the clock to secure the win.
The penalties were a concern for Giacone, but he attributed a lot of it to young guys getting on the field.
"It seems to be all year we've been having injury issues," Giacone said. "We had one in the first quarter and had to put some other kids in, and they weren't real sure what to do."
But his team improved in the second half and committed only two penalties, one of which was declined. Elam and the running game took over from there.
"Marvin's the type of kid that if we can get him some open seams, which has been a challenge this year, he can get downhill and get some positive yards for us," Giacone said. "We were able to tweak some things in the second half and get him going north and south, and I feel like that really helped us."