Tied 7-7 at halftime, the Armuchee Indians fell victim to some costly turnovers in the second half and came up short in a tough 21-7 road loss to the Southeast Whitfield County Raiders in Dalton.
The win was Southeast Whitfield’s first since October 5, 2018, snapping a 17-game losing streak.
A handful of ill-timed penalties and five total team turnovers hurt the visiting Indians in a big way.
“We had a couple bad plays and it killed us,” Armuchee head coach Jeremy Green said. That’s all there is to it. I told them at halftime that I knew we were going to play hard, it’s just a matter of making football plays.”
Armuchee (1-2) started slow out of the gate, failing to record a first down on each of their first three drives. Southeast Whitfield (1-4), one of the largest schools in Class 4A, took advantage, striking first with a 29-yard rushing score from quarterback Ethan Hill in the opening quarter.
Momentum began to shift, however, with the emergence of Armuchee senior tailback Sylvester Bassey in the second quarter.
Behind a veteran offensive line laden with four seniors, Bassey finished the first half with 66 yards on 12 carries. On the game, Bassey would end with 18 rushing attempts for 116 yards.
After one drive featuring a heavy dose of Bassey got Armuchee down inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line, penalties stalled the visitors’ march and the Indians had to settle for a 34-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Southeast Whitfield’s Jordan Trevino.
On their final possession of the second quarter, with just 22 seconds remaining, Armuchee got on the board when quarterback Chandler DeSanto connected with Bassey on a 13-yard strike over the middle to cap off a long, clock-chewing drive.
Grayson Perry knocked home the extra point, and the game was tied as both football teams headed to the locker room.
Yet, Southeast Whitfield would do the rest of the scoring.
On the first drive of the second half, Trevino took a handoff 48 yards to the house.
A missed extra point left the score at 13-7 in favor of the Raiders.
Late in the fourth quarter, Armuchee found itself in Southeast Whitfield territory driving for what could have been the go-ahead score when DeSanto was hit on a throw and had his pass intercepted.
DeSanto, who was injured on the play and did not return to the game, finished 4-for-12 for 42 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Southeast Whitfield then put the game out of reach with a Chandler Dyer 6-yard rushing score.
First-year head coach Todd Murray decided to go for two, and Jose Hererra cashed in from a couple yards out to set the final at 21-7.
“I still love our football team, and we played hard,” Green said. “It’s good that this one hurts — we’re upset, we’re broken-hearted over it — and that’s good.”
Armuchee will next return home to play The King’s Academy next Friday, Oct. 9.