Ware Rolls Past Harris County, 24-6

Ware Rolls Past Harris County, 24-6

The Ware County Gators advance to the second round of the GHSA State Football Championships with a 24-6 victory over visiting Harris County. It was the 16th consecutive first round playoff win for the Gators who are regular contenders in Georgia's Main Event. Friday, the Gators will make the short trip to Stockbridge to take on the Tigers of Head Coach Kevin Whitley. Stockbridge (12-0) is no stranger to the playoffs either and the game is sure to be great one. We need the entire Gator Nation to make the trip and support our TEAM. There are only 16 5-AAAAA football teams still playing. After Friday, there will be 8 standing. Come on Gator Nation....Rise Up!

 

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Story compliments of John Scott Cooper and the WJH. Thank You!

 

The Ware County High Gators did not dominate the Harris County High Tigers Friday night, but Ware did outplay and outscore the visiting team, 24-6, and win the right to make a long road trip next Friday in round two of the state playoffs. "All in all, did we dominate like we thought we wanted to?" Ware County Coach Franklin Stephens asked. "No. But we came into the playoffs and survived. We got more points than the other team. As for the trip next week, I'm just excited about playing, it doesn't matter where we got to go." Domination, as a term, might be in the eye of the beholder. The Gator offense gained a total of 331 yards, 223 on the ground. The Ware defenders held the Tigers to 32 yards rushing and 100 yards passing for a total just over a third of the Gators. That sounds pretty much like they took the visitors behind the woodshed. The only Tiger touchdown was basically a gift, as Ware fumbled the ball in the third quarter to be recovered by Harris County on the Gator 20. This set up a 20-yard scoring pass from Tiger senior Seth Chapman to junior wide receiver Tailique Williams on the next play. The extra point kick missed, and Harris County only once before and never again threatened to score.

"Defensively, we were able to not give up the big plays that plagued us in the past," Stephens said. "Offensively, I was disappointed that we had that one turnover." The biggest play yielded by Ware was on special teams, when Harris County faked a punt in the third quarter, and Jason Whearley tossed a pass to A.K. Wortham for a 39-yard gain and a first down. The Tigers could only move then from the Ware 18 to the 15 before turning it over on downs to the Gators. Two plays later, the fateful fumble happened. But that was the worst moment of the evening for Ware County.

Most of what happened all game was positive for the home team. "I hated to give up the fake punt," Stephens said. "That was disappointing, since we worked on it and worked on it (in practice). But we were able to hit a fake field goal ourselves." The Gators would turn the table early in the fourth quarter and fake a field goal by Victory Steedley. He had already been successful earlier in the game ona 3-pointer. Senior quarterback Acy Paulk as the holder stood up to take the snap and shuttle-passed the ball to senior Trey Cobb, who gained 7 yards up the middle and a first down. A penalty slowed them, but two plays later, Paulk hit junior wide receiver Jeremiah O'Hara for a 14-yard touchdown that, with the extra point put Ware up 24-6. "(I'm) extremely happy about the win," said Coach Franklin Stephens. "We didn't play the entire game the way we wanted to; we had some minor miscues. Still, we moved the ball efficiently, and we were able to make some explosive plays in the air."

The Gators started the scoring less than two minutes into the game after taking possession on the opening kickoff. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Paulk tossed a 50-yard bomb to O'Hara for a touchdown. Victor Steedley made the extra point kick to give Ware a 7-0 lead. Nearly a minute later, the Gators extended the lead to 14-0 when senior running back Raja Bradley ran the ball four straight times from the Harris County 18 into the end zone. Bradley finished the night, far outstripping all ballcarriers with his 140 yards on 28 carries. His backups were second and third in the yardage toll, with senior Tyler Taylor gaining 27 yards on 7 rushes and freshman Dream Gainer getting 25 yards on three rushes.

Ware set up the second scoring possession with a hard defensive hit that knocked the ball loose from the Tigers' Ryan O'Steen. Lavontae Linton recovered it for the Gators. Ware began a second quarter drive on its 30 yard line and drove it 66 yards on 13 plays to set up a Steedley field goal of 22 yards. The Gators took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. In the third quarter, Ware defenders forced the Tigers to fight and scratch for every inch of ground they gained, which wasn't much. Harris County did penetrate Gator territory on the one drive, turn it over on downs, force a Ware fumble and end up with a short field and a touchdown on the next play. For the rest of the third quarter and nearly all of the fourth, Ware County was in control. A penalty negated another long TD pass play from Paulk to O'Hara, but they got the short score in the fourth quarter.

For the most part, Ware kept moving the ball forward a handful of yards at a time that added up to first downs and time of possession. The longest Gator play of the second half was a 22-yard run by Bradley during the final scoring drive. The Gators substituted freely on offense on their final drive of the game, gaining 42 yards on 12 plays before turning the ball over on downs and giving Harris County one final play before the game ended.

A Stockbridge High 40-7 shellacking of McIntosh County set up next week's game in Peachtree City where Ware County will play a different set of Tigers. 

 

Click HERE for a Complete 5A Playoff Bracket

 

Raja Bradley muscles his way for a first down...

 

 

Senior Acy Paulk leads the Gators to a first quarter score...

 

 

Devontae' Linton makes tackle...

 

 

Ernest Jones puts the brakes on Harris County running back...

 

Veteran's Day Celebrated prior to kick-off...

 

This story sponsored by our friends at Gibson Animal Clinic: