CALHOUN, Ga. — If the Calhoun Yellow Jackets had hoped to get into the 2010 football season under the radar in Georgia’s Class AA, Friday night’s decisive 35-0 win over Pepperell changed those plans.
Hal Lamb’s 3-0 team, riding the near-perfect game from senior quarterback Landon Curtis, scored on five consecutive possessions in the first half, resulting in a running clock in the second half. The Dragons (1-2), a preseason top 10-ranked team, were the preseason pick to win the other half of Region 7-AA.
Calhoun did it all with preseason all-state running back Dustin Christian on the sideline with a minor thumb injury.
“I did think this was going to be a better test,” Lamb said. “They were without their best running back [Janier Ferguson], but then again, so were we. This is probably as good as we’ve looked this early in the season that I can remember. Defensively, we played with a short field all night long, and that made a big difference. And Landon and the offensive line had a great game.
“It was a complete win.”
Two weeks after a shaky debut against Dalton, Curtis looked like a seasoned vet against the Dragons. He was 13-of-15 passing in the first half (both misses were drops), for 211 yards and two touchdowns. After junior running back Darius Washington, Christian’s fill-in, scored from 4 yards out to cap the team’s second drive, Curtis took over on the next four.
He drove the team from the Pepperell 42 in four plays on the next possession, completing two passes for 28 yards. Derrick Collins scored from 13 yards out on a nice run off left tackle. Another Pepperell three-and-out and Jacob Young’s 20-yard punt return set up the Jackets at the Dragons’ 18, where Curtis hit top target J.T. Palmer on on second down for a 21-0 lead.
Moments later he connected with Alex Kirby on a 27-yard touchdown and set up the final score with completions of 24, 20 and 26 yards in the final minute of the half to get to the 1, where Tony Hernandez plowed over for the 35-0 lead.
“I feel very comfortable right now in this offense,” Curtis said. “That’s the big difference. I was a little nervous my first start, but I’m ready to rock and roll right now. Everything was working tonight. I thought this was going to be a tough game. They’re a smashmouth football team, but we handled them very well.”
Lamb saw a distinct difference in his quarterback.
“I’m so happy for Landon. He’s been in this system for four years and he’s really something special. He’s waited for his time like a team player and now he’s making the most of it. He played well last week and this week he really played well. He’s going to open some eyes this year.”
Curtis hit seven receivers, with Palmer leading the way with five catches for 77 yards. The Calhoun defense, led by linebackers Alex Kirby and Hunter Knight, held Pepperell to 99 total yards.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...