Creek’s Cole Garvin drops back against a heavy rush from East Coweta.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
The Sandy Creek Patriots say they have a lot of work to do to get where they want to go. Luckily they have the luxury of working while still piling up big victories. On Friday night, the Patriots outgunned the East Coweta Indians on their own turn 54-35.
Sandy Creek's offense struck early and often. The defense did their share of scoring as well. With a big lead in hand before the game was barely underway, the Patriots withstood a big push from the Indians to hold on for victory.
"We started off really good and then just kinda..." coach Chip Walker trailed off. "We've got to get back to work. Once again we gave up way too many points on defense. We made too many mistakes on offense. We've got a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. We've just got to go back to work."
In the season opener against Plant, Sandy Creek's coach Chip Walker called the team's first quarter about the worst he had ever seen his team play. The first quarter against East Coweta was the polar opposite. By the end of the twelve minute first quarter, the Patriots had already piled up a 28-0 lead. As many points as East Coweta would muster in the game, it barely outdid the Patriots output from one quarter.
The Patriots' first drive would stall despite quarterback Cole Garvin hitting on a couple of big passes. One went to Jeremiah Relaford for 21 yards and one to Nick Toney for 14. The drive would stall at midfield, but it would be able before they would be stopped again.
After the Patriot defense forced a three and out, their offense started just over midfield in Indian territory. Delvin Weems sliced that way down, sweeping around the end for 38 yards. On the next play, Eric Swinney punched it in from two yards out. Matthew Davenport added the extra point to make it 7-0 with just under six minutes gone.
East Coweta's electric Markell Boston did his best to get his team back on track, returning the ensuing kickoff into solid starting position. Didn't matter. On the second play of the drive Micah Solomon snared an interception to put Sandy Creek in business.
As a sign of the fire in their bellies, Cole Garvin made one of the best blocks of the night on the series. With a running back reversing track, Garvin laid out an Indian defender. The team exploded in excitement over their signal caller getting his hands dirty. He then went back to his usual job, dropping back and hitting Swinney on a little screen pass on third and 13. Swinney did the rest, racing 57 yards for a touchdown. Sandy Creek was then up 14-0 with 4:10 left in the first quarter.
Again it was a big night for Swinney and his backfield mate Delvin Weems. Swinney ran for 89 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries and added that 57 yard touchdown catch and run. Weems piled up 131 yards on only 13 carries.
"That's a pretty good safety net to fall back on," Walker smiled about Swinney and Weems. "They did a good job."
The defense handled all the load for the next score. On the second play of the next drive, Brian Miller tracked down a tipped pass and picked it off, then wove his way through East Coweta's offense for a touchdown. The extra point made it 21-0 with 3:06 to go in the first.
East Coweta avoided a turnover on their next series, but they still ended it up in a three and out. Demarre Kitt fielded the punt and nearly broke it all the way, instead getting brought down on the East Coweta 38. The Patriots wasted no time striking again. On the very next play, Garvin lofted a beauty up the right sideline that Justin Sumpter hauled in just short of the goal line then shook his defender loose and the finished the 38 yard score. Davenport's extra point made it 28-0 with one minute to go.
Despite a heavy dose of pressure all night, Cole Garvin had a big night. Garvin completed 11 of 17 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns.
"Cole did a good job of handling everything tonight," said Walker. "They were bringing a lot of pressure on us and we still got some big plays."
What a first quarter it was for Sandy Creek. What a five minute span it was. In under five minutes, the Patriots put up an awesome 28 unanswered points.
To East Coweta's credit, they didn't back down at all. Long third downs didn't sway them. Quarterback Bryce Gemmel found Jacob Bergstrom on a pair of big conversions, once for 12 yards on third and seven and once for 14 yards and third and three. The Indians saw their first attempt to score called back. They bounced back when Gemmel scrambled around until he found Bergstrom sneak open for a 13 yard touchdown. Cole Antley added the extra point to make it 28-7 with nine minutes until halftime.
Sandy Creek shot themselves in the foot on their next drive, racking up a trio of penalties to stare down a first and 25 from their own five yard line. They would not move the chains. Punter Trey Walker boomed a strong punt from deep in his own end zone, but Markell Boston still made the team pay. Boston appeared to be wrapped up in the middle of the field before bouncing it outside and bringing the punt back for a touchdown. Boston's big burst narrowed the margin to 28-14.
Sandy Creek had another first half score in their pocket. Despite having a long return called back, the Patriots still got the ball rolling quickly. Swinney started the series with a 14 yard pickup. Garvin found Korey Banks for a nice 15 yard gain. Garvin extended the drive deep in East Coweta territory when he scrambled for a first down on second and long. Swinney punched it in for a 10 yard touchdown on the next play. The extra point would fail, but the Patriots still had a 34-14 lead heading into halftime.
The teams traded three and outs to start the second half, aided by clutch sacks from Sandy Creek's Javonte Lain and East Coweta's Tyler Poythress and Nick Fraser.
Sandy Creek got back on the scoreboard late in the third quarter on a 66 yard drive. Eric Swinney started it out with a run up the middle for 38 yards. He also capped off the drive with a five yard touchdown, his fourth touchdown of the night. The extra point made the score 41-14 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
East Coweta didn't get down, they geared up for another push. The Indians picked up much of their yardage on a pair of big plays, one a 29 yard connection between Bryce Gemmel and another on a 25 yard Gemmel scramble. Malik Robinson finished the drive with a 15 yard touchdown on a read option to make it 41-21.
A stalled drive and a Sandy Creek penalty for plowing into the return man after a fair catch set the Indians up on their own 47. They wasted no time striking. On the first play, Gemmel executed a clean play fake and then lofted a deep ball to E.J. Ransom for a 53 yard touchdown to make it 41-28.
Before they could get any closer the Patriots piled on the score. The next score came after Delvin Weems chewed up yardage on a pair of big bursts. The drive was capped off with a Garvin to Sumpter nine yard touchdown.
The game was fully iced when a big hit by Micah Solomon and a Khari Lain-Trent Sellers combined sack helped kill the last ditch drive. Fullback Maceo Brown raced nearly untouched for a 31 yard touchdown to make it 54-28 with 2:42 left to play.
The Indians made one more charge against Sandy Creek's backups, scoring on a 20 yard pass from Gemmel to Ransom to cap off the 54-35 shootout.
It was a solid nigh across the board for the Sandy Creek offense. In addition to the big nights from Garvin, Swinney, and Weems a number of other Patriots chipped in. Maceo Brown picked up 47 yards and a touchdown on three carries. Justin Sumpter caught two passes for 47 yards, both touchdowns. Demarre Kitt caught four balls for 34 yards. On special teams, Trey Walker had a strong night punting the ball.
Sandy Creek gets next week off before they return the field on the road at Fayette County on September 27. East Coweta hits the road to play Lovejoy next week.