Even having its season end on the wrong side of a 41-6 score couldn't dampen Lakeview-Fort Oglehtorpe's feeling of accomplishment at Tommy Cash Stadium late Friday night.
The Warriors' surprising season came to a not-so-pretty conclusion at the hands of powerful North Hall in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs, but the seven-win season — coming two years after a 1-19 run — and a region runner-up finish had the home team feeling good headed into the offseason.
The Trojans (9-2), though, were clearly the better team Friday, rushing for 313 yards and holding LFO to 109 total yards (45 coming on one late play). The Warriors' speed advantage was negated by a combination of muddy field conditions and a North Hall front eight that caused havoc all night in the LFO backfield.
"They are a very physical team, and we knew that coming in," LFO coach Bo Campbell said. "There was a lot of slipping tonight, and I think it affected us more than them because they are more of a power run team. At the same time, we should have played a lot better, and we all know we could play better."
The visitors used a long kickoff return from Daniel Jackson to begin the game at the LFO 49 and needed only four plays to make it 6-0 when J.T. Fair went around left end 36 yards. The Warriors then managed a pair of first downs on strong runs by Nathan Williams and Jacob Brown, but a fourth-and-4 keeper by Malachi Powell was stopped in the backfield at the North Hall 45.
This time it took a bit longer for the Trojans to score, but they did in 14 plays, the big one a 7-yard run on fourth-and-4 by Jackson to the LFO 38. Four plays later, quarterback David Seavey sneaked in, and the Warriors led 14-0 early in the second quarter.
LFO again moved the ball, reaching the Trojans' 48, but after speedy Deandre Rowe slipped on what looked like a possible big gainer on third down, Powell's fourth-down pass was incomplete.
"We knew we needed points, which is why we went for it on fourth down a bunch," Campbell explained of the gambles. "We had some plays available but just didn't execute."
The Trojans again made them pay, though a third-down pass-interference penalty on LFO kept the drive alive — a call Campbell vociferously argued. On the next play Seavey hit Luke Volle with a 15-yard touchdown on a screen pass that Campbell and his staff believed should have been called back due to several North Hall offensive linemen downfield early.
"We had several things go against us, and the game didn't go the way we wanted it to, but I can't be prouder of these seniors, who have accomplished so much in four years," Campbell said.
The second half was all Trojans, who took their first third-quarter possession 87 yards as the quartet of Drew Faulkner (15 carries for 100 yards), Fair (11-91), Jackson (12-73) and Seavey (8-52) ripped off big yards. It was the first of three consecutive scoring drives as the once-game LFO defense finally tired.
The Warriors managed to avoid the shutout with a minute to play when Rowe ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter @youngsports22