After months and months of gradual climbing, the Gordon Central Warriors are now on the other side of the hump.
Propelled by some late heroics from Martavius Harris and Branson Towe, the Warriors ended a 21-game losing streak by beating Armuchee, 29-22, on Friday night at Ratner Stadium. It was the first victory for Gordon Central (1-6, 1-3) since a road win over LFO on September 25, 2015, and marked the Warriors’ first win on their home field since beating Coahulla Creek on Oct. 10, 2014.
“I’ve been telling the guys that the first one was going to be the hardest one to get,” said first-year head coach Cory Nix, who received an ice-bucket shower from his team following his first win with the Warriors. “So, this one is huge for us. We’ve had some adversity, but the kids kept fighting and met the challenge tonight.”
Harris, the Gordon Central quarterback, hooked up with Towe on a 28-yard touchdown pass with exactly two minutes to play in the game to give the Warriors a 29-22 lead.
On its ensuing possession, Armuchee drove to the Gordon Central 11-yard line, but the drive stalled after two consecutive penalties on the Indians, followed by an interception by Gordon Central’s Brent Silvar near the goal line on the game’s final play.
Gordon Central led 22-7 early in the fourth quarter before Armuchee rallied for a pair of touchdowns in a stretch of less than three minutes to tie the game at 22-22 with 3:48 remaining. But Gordon Central answered back with a four-play, 55-yard scoring drive to move back in front.
“I think our guys got a little down (when Armuchee rallied) and they started thinking about old times,” said Nix, referring to a series of close losses. “But the kids made the plays.”
Harris finished 5-of-13 for 87 yards on the night. And while those numbers might not jump off the stat page, several of his completions came at pivotal moments. All five of his completions went for 10 yards or more, including a pair of touchdown passes — a 10-yarder to Clayton Hogue in the first quarter and the game-winner to Towe in the fourth quarter.
For Armuchee, quarterback Brayden Perry completed 11-of-25 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Tee Allen on a 40-yard scoring strike with 6:20 remaining in the game to bring Armuchee within 22-15. Then, following a Gordon Central fumble, Perry found Jacob Henderson for a 20-yard touchdown on a fourth-down play to tie the game at 22-22 with 3:48 to go.
Henderson led Armuchee’s rushing attack with 58 yards on 16 carries, including a two-yard touchdown run.
For Gordon Central, Gauge Giddens had 16 carries for 66 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Alex Abat had a team-high 75 yards on seven carries and Towe finished with 54 yards on 14 carries.
Harris added to the Warriors’ rushing totals with 28 yards on seven carries, highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown run in which he broke a couple of tackles and then weaved through traffic on the way to the end zone.
Gordon Central kicker David Bautista had a solid night, including making a 30-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the second quarter to give Gordon Central a 9-7 halftime lead. He also converted a pair of PATs.
“The kids are going to be sky-high at practice on Monday,” said Nix. “Now, we just need to build on this momentum and keep working.”
The Warriors are on the road next Friday at Model