TRION, Ga. - Late in Trion's 21-15 season-opening football win over old rival Gordon Lee, one of the Trion administrators was overheard saying he wished he could find the shotgun the visiting Trojans had been shooting themselves in the foot with all Friday night.
Whether it be a firearm, a black cat, the work of an evil witch or just making the wrong play at the wrong time, Gordon Lee was its own worst enemy at Sam R. McCain Stadium. The Trojans committed 16 penalties for 108 yards, threw an interception in Trion territory, lost two fumbles and muffed a punt in letting a golden chance get away to upend the Bulldogs in what is now a nonregion game.
Gordon Lee led 7-0 after Hunter Teeters broke off a 46-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs led 14-7 at halftime despite being outgained 132 yards to 55.
Two Trojans fumbles set up scoring "drives" of 20 and 3 yards, the first ending on Gabe Howell's 7-yard run and the last on Drake Clowdis' 3-yard run on the first play following a fumble.
"There were too many penalties and turnovers, but we feel fortunate to be 1-0," Trion coach Justin Brown said. "The first quarter we played in our territory the whole time, but to get that one at the end of the half -- a real cheap one -- was big. Then to get that one right after halftime and get up two scores was huge."
Tired of being pushed around, the Bulldogs finally put together a nice drive on their second third-quarter possession that lasted into the final period. Featuring the hard running of Howell, Trion marched 65 yards on 17 plays and twice converted on fourth down.
The biggest play, however, was another Gordon Lee gift. Howell, at the end of a hard 7-yard run, appeared to fumble the ball away, but the Trojans were called for a helmet-to-helmet personal foul, and two plays later Clowdis bulled over from the 2 for a 21-7 lead.
Gordon Lee, after Jarrett Pierce's interception foiled one late drive, got in the end zone on the legs of quarterback Caleb O'Neal with just over two minutes left, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Trion and the win soon was salted away.
"It wasn't the prettiest game, but we know coming in that we're going to give it all we've got and they're going to give it all they've got," Brown said. "Gabe Howell was huge. He was a captain for us tonight, and he was one of our go-to guys.
"Our sophomore quarterback, Jackson Bowers, got his first win, and I don't know if a Trion quarterback has ever gotten his first career win against Gordon Lee. He showed a tremendous amount of poise and kept the chains moving for us."
Howell had 66 of his 79 yards rushing in the second half, while O'Neal, despite heavy punishment, had 83 yards on 11 carries and Teeters added 80 on 11 carries.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.