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Football: Denmark uses ground game to edge Pebblebrook
Che Ojarikre 09-16-22
Denmark's Che Ojarikre (6) breaks up a pass intended for Pebblebrook's T.J. Holmes Friday in Cobb County. (Photo by Matt Laczko)

By Carlton D. White

Down to its final possession and no timeouts, Pebblebrook turned the ball over on downs and went on to drop a 17-14 decision against Denmark Friday at Falcon Stadium.

The Falcons pulled to within 17-14 with eight minutes, 56 seconds left in the contest after Janerious Jackson scored on a 10-yard run to cap an 8-play, 85-yard drive set up by Chase Pickney's fumble recovery.

Jerrick Nyantakyi recovered another Denmark fumble on the Danes' ensuing possession, and a promising start to potential scoring drive ended with a fumbled snap, holding penalty, false start and incompletion, leading to a Falcons punt and Denmark possession at their own 43 with 2:23 left in the game.

The Pebblebrook defense forced a three-and-out, but the Falcons, who took possession with 1:21 remaining, weren't able to capitalize.

"We've been dealing with that all season," Pebblebrook coach Leroy Hood said. "The offense sputters, we get behind the chains and our progress stalls because of penalties. We need to do a better job getting the boys to play fast without making the kind of mistakes that keep hurting us and use the weapons that we have on offense.

"We practice our two-minute, up-tempo offense, and for whatever reason, the guys aren't able to execute during the game. I have to do a better job as a coach to get the guys going."

Jackson finished with eight carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Qamar Grant completed 14-of-24 passes for 194 yards, while Jyrion Gillis had eight catches for 109 yards.

Denmark (3-1) led 10-7 at halftime and took control of the game in the third quarter. The Danes dominated time of possession and ran 22 offensive plays compared to only three for the Falcons.

Denmark scored on the opening possession of the third quarter, going 80 yards on nine plays, capped by Dee Crayton's 6-yard rushing touchdown for a 17-7 advantage. 

Following a Pebblebrook three-and-out, the Danes started their next possession on their own 2 and drove inside the Falcons' red zone before Pickney's fumble recovery gave the Falcons a much-needed boost to mount their potential comeback.

Overall, Pebblebrook wasn't able to take advantage of a 3-0 edge in the turnover battle.

"We create turnovers every game and normally when you win the turnover battle, the percentages say you win the game," Hood said. "With us, it's a bad bounce or one person not doing their job that can cost us the game. We need to execute better and score points with the type of talent that we have."

Denmark's Amon Williams finished the game with 33 carries for 181 yards, while Crayton had four carries for 26 yards and two touchdowns. Kohl Yearwood did not complete a pass on five attempts, but he did rush seven times for 60 yards.

Denmark rallied from a 7-0 deficit to stake a 10-7 halftime lead. 

William Hodges' 11-yard sack of Grant set up the Danes at the Pebblebrook 49.

Yearwood then directed a 10-play, 5-minute scoring drive to give Denmark its lead. Using all rushing plays, the Danes converted once on third down and again on fourth down to extend the possession.

Crayton capped the drive with an 8-yard run and a 3-point Danes lead with 5:20 remaining in the period.

Pebblebrook attempted to respond, driving 60 yards on nine plays on the ensuing possession. But, the drive stalled at the 20, and Josil Roosvins 37-yard field goal fell short with less than two minutes to play.

Denmark used three plays to run out the clock, sending the game into intermission.

The Falcons got on the board first behind a 9-yard touchdown run from Dwight Phillips with 3:30 left on the first quarter clock.

Pebblebrook went three-and-out on its first three possessions before finally getting the offense moving. Phillips had a 22-yard run during the drive and Grant connected with Briyar Powers on a 22-yard catch-and-run to help set up the score.

Gillis also had a first-quarter interception for Pebblebrook, but the Falcons were unable to turn the turnover into points.

Denmark answered following the Pebblebrook score as Hamilton DiBoyan connected on a 52-yard field goal with 22.2 seconds left in the first, trimming the Falcons lead to 7-3.

Denmark totaled 77 first half offensive yards, while Pebblebrook collected 146.