CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. - There was very little artistic about Trion's 17-8 win at Gordon Lee on Friday, but Georgia's oldest continuous high school football rivalry rarely is.
The Region 6-A foes combined for a mere 383 total yards while accumulating seven turnovers and 15 penalties. None of this mattered to Daniel Sanford, the junior lineman who helped lead a Bulldogs defense that completely stymied the Trojans until a late meaningless drive.
"We played lights out tonight," said Sanford, who had three tackles for loss as Trion allowed only 48 yards rushing. "We gave up one late tonight, but we had the game in hand. The offense wasn't clicking at first, but the defense was holding it tight. It wasn't pretty, but it feels great, the best win ever."
After an exchange of punts and turnovers early, Trion (5-2, 2-1) got on the board midway through the second quarter when quarterback Cory Bethune had back-to-back runs of 12 and 34 yards, the last one reaching the end zone after a pair of broken tackles. The extra-point kick was missed, however.
Gordon Lee (3-4, 0-3) had an opportunity to take the lead in the final minute of the half when Andrew Towns blocked a Trion punt at the 7. However, three plays netted zero yards and a field-goal attempt was wide right.
The game turned for good early in the second half when the Trojans, who earlier lost starting quarterback Hayden Casteel to a leg injury, suffered lost fumbles on back-to-back plays. The first turnover resulted in Austin Weaver's 20-yard field goal, but the second broke the Trojans' backs when Bethune passed to Isaac Thomas for 36 yards and three plays later Malik Martin bulled in from the 1. Bethune's two-point pass to Chandler Latham made it 17-0 and gave the Bulldogs more than enough breathing room as their defense clamped down.
"This was a personal game for Coach [Josh] Groce, our defensive coordinator who graduated from here, and he had the guys ready to play," Trion coach Justin Brown said. "We tackled well and we played hard all night. The first half was a dogfight, and I felt if we could get two scored we would be all right. We were in the hole most of the first half, and the turnovers in the second half was the big swing in the game."
Bethune led the Bulldogs with 74 yards on eight carries, with Martin adding 70 on 17, while Colin Wright had the highlight for Gordon Lee with a late 36-yard scoring pass from Caleb O'Neal and finished with two catches for 69 yards.
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