VALDOSTA –– Life is good at the top.
No. 1 Lowndes (10-0, 3-0 Region 1-7A) defeated No. 3 Colquitt (8-2, 2-1 Region 1-7A) 28-17 to win the 13th region championship and complete the fifth undefeated regular season in program history—solidifying themselves as the top team in the region and state.
It looked like the two sides would claw their way to a fourth quarter victory, but the powers at be had other plans.
Lowndes was clutching to a four-point advantage and set to punt after stalling out just before the end of the third quarter.
Tiberius Drocea sent a booming kick down the field and when the Colquitt returner attempted to catch the ball it bounced off his chest and onto the turf of Joe Wilson Field.
A hoard of Vikings jumped on the ball and two plays later, Jacurri Brown powered his way to a 14-yard touchdown run.
It flipped the game on its head and after a scoreless fourth quarter, the Vikings would claim their title—and avenge the 40-6 loss from a season ago.
“I’ve got to make it up,” said Brown, who threw an interception in the opening quarter. “No matter what, even if I mess up, defense has my back … even if I’m young, I had to grow up really early around this team.”
Brown is only a sophomore, but is the player who provides the spark for Lowndes’ offense. He finished the game with 107 yards on 14 attempts and two touchdowns on the ground and threw for 8-of-16 completions with 66 yards.
The win was in typical fashion for the 10-win Vikings.
Lowndes found a lead in the third quarter, and turned up the heat defensively.
The pressure visibly frustrated Colquitt quarterback, Jaycee Harden, throughout the latter part of the contest.
Harden is the top passer in the region, and displayed his arm talent throughout the contest. He finished 19-of-33 with 234 of Colquitt’s 263 yards of total offense and a touchdown.
He wasn’t able to escape the Concrete Curtain’s pressure and found himself on the turf many times.
In one instance, after a hit, he pounded his fist into the ground, writhing in apparent pain.
The Packer’s training had to staff come onto the field and assist him to the sideline after several minutes of him on the turf.
It was a similar scene with Camden’s Logan Watson the week prior and—likely—what to expect for the duration of the postseason.
“Our kids give me confidence and our coaching staff confidence because they practice and approached this season,” defensive coordinator Byron slack said after the game. “We expect for them to continue to do so. To see it play out, it was such a great team win.”
The Concrete Curtain finished with 39 tackles led by seniors Josh Brown and Devonn Lane who had six each, five tackles for a loss and three sacks.
They lived in the backfield in the second half of the contest, making Harden use his legs to extend plays.
At times there were penalties for late hits.
But it seemed to energize the Lowndes defense with every yellow flag.
“I’ll never talk about the official, it is what it is and we’ve just got to overcome that sometimes,” Slack said on receiving penalties. “Our kids understand that … we do not hit people after the whistle. We do not take cheap shots. We just play hard and every now-and-then that’s going to happen.”
The win gave Lowndes its first undefeated regular season since 2017. It’s the fourth time that Lowndes head coach randy McPherson has coached an undefeated team in the regular season but only one of those teams went on to win the state championship.
“I feel really good but it’s definitely a team effort,” McPherson said as he stood amongst family and friends after the game. “We’ve got great coaches, great players, and they’re all in. They’ve all bought in … this is just a big win.”
The Vikings will be out of action next week as they prepare for their first-round playoff game on Nov. 15. against the loser of the North Cobb and Hillgrove matchup next week.