Gordon Lee Trojans

Being a No. 2 seed for the Class A Public School Playoffs, the odds are slim that the Gordon Lee Trojans will get another football game at home before the postseason wraps up.

So if Friday night was indeed the last time this year's seniors would take the field in front of their hometown fans in Chickamauga, they made absolutely sure they went out in memorable fashion.

The 2020 Trojans became the first team in school history to put up 50 or more points four times in a season and set a new school mark for margin of victory in a playoff game with a 56-0 drubbing of Georgia Mililtary College Prep.

Once again, Gordon Lee flirted with 500 yards of total offense, amassing 493 yards with 362 coming on 45 carries.

The Trojans bolted out to a 28-0 lead after one quarter. Quarterback Blake Groce got things started with a 52-yard TD run, his longest of the season, less than three minutes into the contest and Cade Peterson would crash in from the 3-yard line shortly thereafter.

Nate Dunfee added to the lead after picking off a pass and returning it 43 yards for a score and Brody Cobb cashed in from three yards out just before the end of the quarter. The TD was set up by a fantastic one-handed catch by Jacob Neal.

The Trojans would tack on two more scores in the second period and enjoyed a 42-0 advantage at halftime before adding two more scores in the third.

It's the largest margin of victory for a Gordon Lee team since a 70-0 blowout of Lakeview in the opening game of the 1947 season and the sixth-biggest win in school history, according to records kept by the Georgia High School Football Historians Association (ghsfha.org).

"It was exciting," GL head coach Josh Groce said on Saturday morning. "I think the kids were hungry and ready. They've dreamed about it for a long time and they finally got the opportunity to play a home playoff game. They came out and executed the things they were supposed to do."

Senior Cade Peterson ran the ball 18 times for 117 yards and added a second 3-yard TD run to go with a 10-yard scoring jaunt. Peterson, the second-leading rusher in the state in all classifications coming into the ball game, now has 1,711 yards on the season. He is just 51 yards from breaking Drew Cobb's single-season mark of 1,761 set five years ago.

He also entered the game tied for the overall lead in the state with 23 rushing touchdowns on the season, prior to the three he added on Friday.

Bo Rhudy led the Trojans with 119 yards on just 11 carries with touchdown runs of 3 and 57 yards, while Groce had 51 yards on two carries, scored once and added 129 yards in the air on an efficient 4 of 5 passing.

Neal had two receptions for 64 yards. Cobb had four carries for 29 yards, and Dunfee added 31 yards on two carries, while adding a 43-yard catch. Will Carswell also had a 22-yard reception.

Defensively, Cobb and Penn Askew each had four solo tackles, while Askew added an assist, a fumble recovery and two pass break-ups.

With the win, Gordon Lee (10-1) will make the drive to Commerce next Friday night to face the fourth-ranked Tigers, the Region 8-A champion, in the second round. Commerce, who also sports a 10-1 mark, is riding an eight-game winning streak overall, following a 52-20 victory over Manchester on Friday night.

The two programs have met on the football field just once. That came in the first round of the 2007 playoffs when the Trojans got a field goal by Paden Harris on an untimed down, following a defensive penalty on the Tigers on what would have been the final play of the game. Harris split the uprights to give Gordon Lee a dramatic 16-14 victory.

Groce, an assistant coach on the Gordon Lee staff that season, said he remembers the game well and is looking forward to the long-awaited rematch.

"That will be an old-school football game with a wing-T (offense) against a triple-option (offense)," he added. "Everything I've heard about them, especially the last few years, is just how hard-nosed they are. I just now got some film on them and haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I'm pretty sure I'll see good kids up front and some good skill position players."

The winner of the contest will take on the winner between Region 4 runner-up Wilcox County and Region 2 champion and defending state champ Irwin County in the quarterfinals.

Region 6 went 2-2 in the first round. In addition to Gordon Lee's victory, region champ Bowdon roughed up Wilkinson County, 35-6, but Mt. Zion-Carroll took a 60-14 decision on the chin from Warren County. Fourth-seeded B.E.S.T. Academy nearly pulled the upset, but fell 24-22 to Region 7 champ Hancock Central.

The 2020 Trojans also became just the fifth team in school history to post at least 10 wins in a single season. Gordon Lee won 10 games in 1947 and 1948, while the 1966 and 2002 teams both recorded 11 victories.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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