Region 6-A play begins for the Gordon Lee Trojans next week and based on the performance of their final non-region game, it appears that the Trojans are more than ready.
Gordon Lee nearly quadrupled Southeast Whitfield in total yards (426-107) and scored the first seven times they got the ball in an absolutely dominant 48-0 Homecoming victory over the visiting Raiders on Friday.
While head coach Josh Groce was more than pleased with his team's 418 yards rushing and over 10 yards per carry average, it was the zero on the guest side of the scoreboard that put the biggest smile on his face.
"Sometimes in these kinds of games, it's tough to keep those zeros," said Groce. "But we tell our young guys, it doesn't matter who's on the field. In any scenario, it's your job to make plays too. The young guys came in and did very well tonight also. I'm very proud of them."
After forcing Southeast to punt on its first possession, the Trojans went to work. Cade Peterson got a big block downfield from receiver Jacob Neal, springing him for a 36-yard touchdown run on just the fifth play of the night for the home team.
Following a three-and-out by the Raiders, Gordon Lee needed just four plays to score again. This time it was Bo Rhudy getting the call on third-and-12 near midfield and getting loose down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown.
The Trojans would get the ball a third time with 3:17 left in the first quarter and handed the ball to Peterson at his own 43. The senior barreled down the right side, broke a tackle at the Southeast 20, and then delivered a devastating stiff-arm to flatten a final Raider defender at the 10 to punctuate the 57-yard TD romp.
And the rout was on.
Southeast punted on its next two possessions and both times Gordon Lee answered with touchdowns. Nate Dunfee scored from six yards out with just under three minutes gone in the second quarter and Rhudy found the endzone from 10 yards out with 4:26 to play before halftime.
The Raiders would try a fourth-down fake punt at their own 28 on their ensuing possession. However, Penn Askew sniffed out the deception and hit Ethan Hill at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Peterson then ran for 25 yards on the very next play before Rhudy danced into the endzone from three yards out to make it 41-0 at halftime.
Gordon Lee would get its final touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter as Brody Cobb capped an eight-play, 60-yard march with a 16-yard TD run.
After kicker Montgomery Kephart went 6 of 7 on extra points in the first half, Jackson Ellis stepped to the line and booted the final PAT of the night to put the final point on the board for the Navy-and-White, much to the delight of his teammates on the bench and the fans in attendance.
Groce then turned things over to the second team defense, who bent a little, but refused to completely break as they finished off the shutout. Southeast's lengthiest drive of the night came late in the third quarter as they moved all the way from its own 27 to inside the Gordon Lee 40. However, the Trojan defense forced three straight incomplete passes to end the drive their own 34.
Peterson finished with 170 yards on just seven carries and Rhudy picked up 126 yards on 10 carries with both touching the ball only once in the second half. Cobb picked up 51 yards on nine attempts, while Blake Groce attempted just two passes, completing one to Neal for eight yards.
Groce gave plenty of credit to his offensive line after the game.
"A lot of times, those guys don't get all the honors and the glory like the running backs do, but those are the guys paving the way for them," the coach stated. "We've got a great offensive line. Those guys work hard everyday and they're the ones that make things happen for our running backs."
Hayden Walker had a sack and two tackles for loss for Gordon Lee, who held the Raiders to just 107 yards of offense. Jordan Trevino ran 13 times for 45 of Southeast's 96 yards on the ground and Hill connected on just 1 of 10 passes for 11 yards.
Michael Akins also had a sack for the Trojans. Gabe Kirkendoll made eight tackles and Jared Lowe added seven. Holt Roberts finished with six stops and one pass break-up, while Askew had five solo tackles and two assists.
Now 5-0 for the first time since 2006, Gordon Lee will make the long drive to Bowdon next Friday night to take on the Red Devils in the region opener. Bowdon (2-3) will carry the momentum of two straight wins into next week's match-up, including a 42-13 region win over Trion on Friday.
"We're going to have a very tough opponent with Bowdon," Groce added. "They're a very good football team and we lost a very good football player last week (against Gordon Central) in Cody Thomas, but it was big for some of our kids to step up tonight. You're not going to replace a kid like Cody, but we just have to rally around each other and close up that gap."