Scenes from the state quarterfinal football games around Gwinnett County on Nov. 23, 2018.
MOULTRIE – Ty Leggett scored five touchdowns with nearly 200 total yards. Jay Ward intercepted two passes in helping his defensive teammates hold North Gwinnett to just over 200 yards. And in every other way, it was a dominant Friday night for Colquitt County High football.
The No. 1 Packers, now 13-0, demolished the defending Class AAAAAAA champion Bulldogs 45-0 Friday on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium and advanced to a home semifinal next Friday against Archer. North had trouble trying to stop Leggett and Colquitt quarterback Jaycee Harden, and struggled to get anything past lineman Brian Merritt and the Packer triad of linebackers besides a mere 77 rushing yards.
Leggett scored touchdown runs of 47 and 53 yards in the third quarter, those representing his only carries of the second half. Before that, he had 36 yards on six rushes with two other TD runs of nine and six yards. In all, that’s eight carries for 136 yards.
Harden’s recent mode of operation is to throw and throw in the first half, then tone it down while the running game takes over in the second half. He was 12-for-18 for 206 yards in the first half, then he completed his only two third-quarter tosses to make it 14-for-20 and 225 yards.
For the first-year starter, perhaps his most amazing play of the season came on a forward flip to Leggett while under heavy pressure. Leggett turned that into another touchdown covering 37 yards in the second quarter. The senior running back caught four passes in all for 47 yards, and including his 12-yard kickoff return that opened the game, that’s 195 yards.
Lemeke Brockington of Colquitt also caught four passes to gain 125 yards, all in the first half.
North Gwinnett, most importantly in the grand scheme, came up with no points after kicking an untimed field goal to win the 2017 state title over the Packers 19-17 last December. The Bulldogs netted 105 yards in the first half, 107 in the second for 212. Nine running plays in all were stopped behind the line of scrimmage, and J.R. Martin completed 12 passes for 135 yards.
But not only did Ward – a senior cornerback recently picking up offers from LSU and Ohio State – pick Martin off twice in the first half, the Packer defense two times in the first quarter kept North Gwinnett from getting the one or two yards needed to keep a drive alive.
Colquitt, on the other hand, was able to make first downs needing anywhere from 11 to 20 yards.
It’s when the Packers ran the football for the first time with Leggett that the home offense moved the chains on 2nd-and-11 at the Colquitt 41-yard-line. This was the second possession, one aided by roughing the passer called on the Bulldogs. Daijun Edwards carried three times from the North 33 to the 9, then Leggett got a canyon-sized hole to run up the middle to the end zone.
Ryan Fitzgerald, 100 percent all season in the PAT game, made it 7-0 at 6:41. Fitzgerald, at 4:46, sneaked a 49-yard field goal over the bar for 10-0 edge.
North Gwinnett found some penetration with Tyler Goodson running the ‘wildcat’ three times into Packer ground at the 39. But when offsides turned it into first-and-5, Goodson ran into linebacker Marcus Anderson and Merritt, playing noseguard. It was fourth-and-2, Goodson looked to throw the football, and he was chased down for a loss by the other linebackers, Rashad Revels and Kendrick Neloms.
In just three plays, Colquitt expanded that lead to 17-0. Harden connected with Brockington outside, and Marvion McDonald’s perimeter block sprung his teammate loose for 53 yards to the North 11. Leggett scored from the 6 at 1:40.
Harden’s flip TD pass to Leggett capped off an 11-play drive with three third-down conversions. The QB was sacked for third-and-13 on his own 24, but had lots of time to find Brockington over the middle for 22 yards. On third-and-2, Harden rolled and – with that same protection – hit Tyrique Williams for eight yards on the North 38.
Leggett scored the 37-yard reception at 6:17 until the half.
Ward first intercepted Martin when the Bulldogs moved from their 20 to over the 50 in six plays. Spotted on the North 48, the Packers used six plays of their own to score seven more points with 1:39 to play. There was one more big third-and-9 conversion, Harden to a well-covered freshman Tajh Sanders for 10 yards.
Edwards, the team leader in touchdowns with 25 coming into the game, got over the goal line for the lone time on a four-yard run.
Ward’s second interception was on the next-to-last play of the half by the home sideline.
Even with the score 31-0, the clock did not run in the third period as the Bulldogs had the opening possession. Goodson got the ball on third-and-2 right away, and sophomore end Zy Brockington stopped him a yard short.
The Bulldogs punted away to the Packer 37. Though Harden took a sack led by Bryson Scruggs, his senior tight end Josh Hadley caught the third-and-14 pass on the 47, just enough to move the sticks.
The drive ended with Leggett going up the middle to the end zone for the 47-yard score and a 38-0 lead.
On the second Colquitt possession in the quarter, Edwards carried four times for 13 yards setting up the 53-yard jaunt, again up the middle, for Leggett at 1:55 for a 45-0 advantage.