By Noah Rubin
For the Forsyth County News
After splitting the first two matchups, the Peach State Cats were as prepared as a team could be for Saturday's game against the Georgia-Lina Lions. That preparation was on full display in the first half.
The Cats used their dominant first half to propel them to a 49-24 victory over the Lions. They led 29-6 at halftime, after they allowed a touchdown just before the first half ended.
A big reason for their early lead was the play of running back Tristan Gould, who scored three of his four rushing touchdowns in the first half. The dominant performance was definitely one that Gould will remember.
“It feels good,” Gould said. “Especially to be back wearing No. 22. This is my mom and grandma’s birthday, so it feels great to be back in it, and I balled out in it.”
Coach James Moreland was quick to realize the kind of game that Gould was having and continued to put him in positions to succeed.
“He has a nose for the end zone,” Moreland said. “I was just looking at how the defense was lined up. I saw the numbers on one side, so I just kept calling the toss, and I knew he was gonna get us positive yards.”
Gould attributed his success on the scoreboard to the team around him.
“The offensive line and good calls from coach [allowed me to succeed],” Gould said. “But it starts with the offensive line. Those guys put me in the end zone.”
As dominant as the Cats were offensively, the play of the defensive line may have been better. Ashton McKenzie and Cee Jay Benton combined for seven sacks and a fumble recovery, but they seemed to be in the backfield every play.
“Cee Jay’s a dog,” Moreland said. “He sacked me plenty of times when I played quarterback. So, when I got the head coaching job, I said, 'That’s a guy I have to have.’ So, Cee Jay, he’s a dog. Ashton, he’s short, but he’s a bully. Those are some great players, for real.”
McKenzie and Benton weren’t the only defensive players that stood out. Carlo Dowdell recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, and Michael Swann had an athletic one-handed interception in the back of the end zone.
The dominant performance on both sides of the ball was great timing for the Cats, as they were able to really show how good they are on the team's youth night. The kids in attendance were able to meet the players after the game, as well as take pictures and get autographs.
“It’s good for the kids,” Moreland said. “Not everyone can go to the NFL, so maybe they’ll look into arena football. They’ll remember this day.”
The youth night was also good for the Peach State Cats as an organization that is still new in the community. The Cats [5-1] return to the Cumming Fairgrounds on July 10, when they host the Palmetto Colts for Greek Night.