MONROE – George Walton Academy exacted a bit of revenge and enhanced its chances of securing a fourth consecutive berth in the state playoffs with a 43-21 win over Pinecrest Academy at Keith Henderson Field Friday night.
Facing a team that had twice before marred otherwise brilliant seasons, the Bulldogs took care of business with a brutal rushing attack led by seniors Stanley Williams and Nick Waters. The two combined for 339 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
"[Pinecrest] always give us a good game, so that was a big win," George Walton coach Don Williams.
Running out of the Wing-T, the Paladins (4-3, 2-2 Region 8-A) stood toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs for the better part of the first half.
After scoring on a 23-yard pass from freshman quarterback Ryan McCarthy in the first quarter, Anthony Carco (60 yards rushing, 24 receiving) scored his second touchdown on a 4-yard run with just over three minutes to go in the second quarter to tie the game at 14.
On its ensuing possession, George Walton drove inside Pinecrest territory and appeared to be bogged down at third-and-12 from the 31. But Williams got loose on a draw play and went the distance to give his team a halftime lead they’d never relinquish.
The University of Kentucky-bound back finished with 236 yards on 14 carries and four touchdowns.
"Let’s be honest, he’s their offense," Pinecrest coach Todd Winters said. "Take him off that team and we probably win the game."
For the third time this season, Williams scored on his team’s first offensive play of the game, this time sprinting 69 yards after being hit behind the line and breaking a couple of tackles.
Overshadowed by Williams for much of the season, third-year starting back Nick Waters had his biggest night of the year, rushing for 103 yards on 16 carries. He scored George Walton’s second touchdown, culminating a nine-play, 57-yard drive with a 3-yard run with a minute left in the first quarter.
"We knew they’d be focusing on Stanley and we thought we could hit them quick up the middle," Williams said. "It worked, and it was great to see Nick have a big game."
The two teams exchanged touchdowns to open the second half. George Walton scored on a 35-yard run by Williams and added two points when holder Tucker Shull picked up a bad snap on the PAT attempt and ran it in.
The Paladins responded with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard run by McCarthy.
Pinecrest then stopped the Bulldogs on three plays, took over at its own 43, and appeared to have stolen the momentum. But Bulldogs safety Cole Brown intercepted a deep pass from McCarthy and returned it 40 yards to the Paladins 49.
From there, the Bulldogs went the distance in 10 plays with Williams adding his fourth touchdown on a 7-yard run, putting the game out of reach at 36-21.
The Bulldogs tacked on a final touchdown with just over a minute left when Brown lofted a perfect spiral from 27 yards out to Demetrious Mason in the right corner of the end zone.
It did so at the expense of the Paladins, who dashed the Bulldogs shot at earning region crowns in both 2009, George Walton’s last season in the Georgia Independent School Association, and again last fall.