Valdosta Daily Times

January 19, 2013

Florida tops Georgia in Battle of the Border

Teams combined for 15 points, all on field goals

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — In a game filled with little offense, Lowndes head football coach Randy McPherson did his best to make it interesting late.

With his South Georgia All-Star team trailing 9-6 and less than 30 seconds remaining, McPherson called a trick play, one last final attempt to produce something, anything in the all-star game against North Florida.

Quarterback Nick Johstono (Howard High) flung the ball out to Valwood’s Rashad Mathis, who threw the ball 62 yards down the field to Brooks County’s Damian Cobb.

Cobb was knocked out of bounds at the 25-yard line with 14 seconds to go. Georgia was in a position to win the game, or at least tie the score with a field goal.

Unfortunately for Georgia, though, it never got the chance as Johstono was intercepted the following play by a Florida defender, who proceeded to run out the clock and preserve the 9-6 win for Florida.

All 15 combined points in Friday’s Battle of the Border all-star game at Lowndes’ Martin Stadium came on field goals. Buchholz (Fla.) High’s Grant Godwin connected on three field goals for Florida, while Lowndes’ Gustavo Gonzales scored all six points for Georgia in a game that featured stout defensive play and limited, turnover prone and punt filled offensive possessions.

Georgia finished with 165 yards of total offense, 62 of which came on Mathis’ pass to Cobb, while Florida finished with 142 yards.

Florida took a 3-0 lead off a 20-yard field goal by Godwin on its first offensive possession. The Florida offense traveled 57 yards down the field to set up the field goal, after Georgia’s opening drive ended with an incomplete pass and a pair of sacks on Valdosta quarterback Shelby Wilkes, which pushed Georgia back 17 yards.

Georgia evened the score at 3-3 on a 34-yard field goal by Gonzales, who missed a 44-yard attempt on Georgia’s second offensive possession of the game.

Florida added a field goal and regained the lead with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter. Florida took over possession of the ball after Georgia went three-and-out following a missed field goal attempt by Florida.

Starting at its own 20, the Georgia offense was pushed back a yard and forced to punt. Five plays later, Florida connected on the field goal to take the 6-3 lead.

In the third quarter, neither team could muster much production. The only offensive surge came by Florida, when Austin Chipoletti connected with Zay Thornton on a 33-yard touchdown pass. The play was called back after a personal foul facemask call on Florida, which settled for a 54-yard field goal that missed by 20 yards.

Georgia opened the half with an interception on the very first Florida offensive play. Two plays later, Georgia fumbled the ball back to Florida when the snap sailed over Johstono’s head as he stood in the shotgun.

Lowndes’ Nick Burgman was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player for Georgia, finishing the game with 37 yards rushing on nine attempts. Valdosta’s Jacquez Jelks was named the Defensive MVP, finishing the game with several pass breakups, including one that saved a Florida touchdown in the third quarter.

Wilkes finished the game 7 of 15 for 36 yards with a third quarter interception, while Lowndes quarterback Alex Stephenson finished 3 of 8 for 13 yards and was sacked four times.

Valdosta’s Sherrod Inman finished the game with two rushes for 11 yards, both coming on reverse plays, along with a 55-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. Inman and Burgman both fumbled punt returns, which were lost to Florida.