SNELLVILLE — Peachtree Ridge and South Gwinnett, on a break from region play, entered Friday's non-region football game in search of a boost for the remainder of the season.
South Gwinnett got what it wanted, using a punishing running game as well as a stingy defense to defeat Peachtree Ridge 32-14. The Comets improve to 4-3, while the Lions fall to 3-4.
“We talked a lot about how we wanted to play tonight, which included getting better on both sides of the ball and I felt that we are continuing to show improvement in all of those areas,” said South Gwinnett head coach Bryan Lamar. “We know that there is still a lot of work to do as we did not play as well in the second half as we would have liked.”
The Comets broke the game open in the first half as they rushed for over 250 yards with long runs behind the legs of Jayshawn Appling, Glenn Rouse and Mekkhi Phillips.
“We really have three good running backs, one senior, one junior and a sophomore,” said Lamar.
The South defense created the first break of the game as it forced a Peachtree Ridge fumble, which Issi Okonji recovered for the Comets on the Lions' 33-yard line.
Six plays later, Phillips carried the final two yards for South Gwinnett’s first touchdown of the game. The Comets then used a bit of razzle dazzle as Tahmel Davis connected with Deandre Wilson for the two-point conversion give South an early 8-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, the Comets were on the move again. Jayshawn Appling sprinted 57 yards down to the Lions' 9-yard line. Rouse then raced nine yards up the middle to score the Comets' second touchdown of the quarter. A successful PAT by Erick Cavillo pushed South’s lead to 15-0 with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
Following another defensive stand, the Comets raced down the field again. Jayshawn Appling found his way into the end zone with a nine-yard TD run to push the South Gwinnett lead to 22-0 at the 8:35 mark of the second quarter.
The Comets crossed the goal line once more in the second quarter as Nathaniel Miller connected with Okonji on a 5-yard TD pass.
South put together on more long scoring drive late in the second quarter. Cavillo capped the drive as he booted a 36-yard field goal to give the Comets a 32-0 halftime lead.
Peachtree Ridge fought back and got on the scoreboard midway through the fourth quarter.
Sha’marr Peoples crashed through the Comet defensive line to score the Lions' first TD with a 4-yard run. Following a successful two-point conversion, Peachtree Ridge trailed 32-8 with 7:18 remaining.
Refusing to give up, the Lions scored again late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Josh Evans found Myles Abernathy in the end zone for a TD. The PAT failed and the Lions trailed 32-14 with 1:12 left in the game.
“We had some good and some bad tonight but we have a really big region game at home next week against Parkview," Lamar said. "This means that as a team we have to refocus and get ready to go.”
South Gwinnett 32, Peachtree Ridge 14
Peachtree Ridge 0 0 0 14 - 14
South Gwinnett 15 17 0 0 - 32
South Gwinnett: Mekhi Phillips 2 run (Deandre Wilson from Tahmel Davis) 7:12
South Gwinnett: Glenn Rouse 9 run (Eric Cavillo kick) 0:32
South Gwinnett: Rouse 10 run (Cavillo kick) 8:35
South Gwinnett: Issi Okonji pass from Nathaniel Miller (Caleb Sery kick) 5:11
South Gwinnett: Cavillo 36 FG, 1:01
Peachtree Ridge: Sha’marr Peoples (Josh Evans from Hayden Thompson) 7:18
Peachtree Ridge: Myles Abernathy pass from Josh Evans ( PAT failed) 1:12