The Flint River Academy Wildcats proved they could hang with the best of them last Friday night in Woodbury. The team played well and with determination against Southwest Georgia, a state contender and bigger, faster, more physical team. In fact, the Cats should have been placing a check in the win column if not for two key plays that turned the score around. FRA lost 36-30.
SWG got on the scoreboard first with a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter, but the Cats’ defense held the Warriors’ offense time and time again with impressive fourth down stands. Cats quarterback Parker Williams looked sharp and had recovered from earlier shoulder injuries and went to the air 26 times, completing 15 passes for a passing total of 214 yards to the Warriors’ 52 yards on eight attempts, four completions. Unfortunately, two Wildcat passes were picked off, but then two also resulted in FRA touchdowns. Chase Lewis had an impressive night, picking up 39 yards on a run in the second quarter that set up Brett Williamson to go in for the first Flint River TD. The two -point conversion was no good, but the Cats led 6-3. James Murphy was sadly missing from the lineup, as he wears an ortho boot and recovers from turf toe with sprained joints in the toe plus massive fluid buildup.
SW Georgia’s offense consists of an extremely athletic quarterback, LaGuardia, who had the luxury of being behind a big effective line. FRA’s Dalton Bowen, William Quinlan, and Dylan Murray slowed the QB, but he ground down field in ten plays to score in the second quarter and retake the lead for the Warriors, 10-6.
FRA’s next drive ended in a punt and SW Georgia followed with the same. With a minute to go in the half, Williams’ screen pass to Williamson picked up 10 yards, a second pass to Williamson picked up 18, and then in a perfectly executed classic flea flicker play that had onlookers holding their breath, Williams’ screen pass to Williamson was tossed to Lewis who dashed into the end zone from the 15. After a two-point conversion pass to Williamson was good, FRA led at the half 14-10.
Halftime was an impressive routine performed by the cheerleaders followed by the releasing of pink balloons with names written on them of those who have fought breast cancer. The football team acknowledged the “Pink Out” with pink socks and sweat bands, the cheerleaders looked like cotton candy with their pink bows, socks, pom poms, and face paint. The stands were more than sprinkled with pink, and the first chilly night autumn air made for perfect football weather.
FRA had a great third quarter and began the second half by receiving the kickoff. Williams scrambled after a bad snap that left the Cats on second down and 25 to go, deep at the wrong end zone, and it was followed by a pass picked off by LaGuardia, but fortunately a late hit on the QB penalty resulted in the Cats keeping the ball and the penalty putting them to rights.
Cullen Evans broke open the momentum juice, receiving a long 34-yard pass and then Williams zigged and zagged to get 14 yards. Momentum faltered when Williams threw to Williamson twice-incomplete out of bounds on one and short on another-plus an offside penalty, leaving the Cats fourth and six to go, knocking at the red zone. But Williams connected with Evans on a 23-yarder that added 6 for the Cats. Williams’ end around run added two and the Cats led confidently 22-10.
The Cats defense ended the third quarter ahead 22-10 and in control of the Warrior offense with key tackles made by Tyler Crew, Dylan Murray, Chase Lewis, Sam Baggarly, William Quinlan, and a sack by Dalton Bowen. It seemed the Cats had a clear victory and could do no wrong.
In the fourth quarter everything went wrong. FRA picked up a first down after a Chase Lewis’ run for seven and Williams on a keeper for nine. On first down Williams threw long and was intercepted. SW Georgia reversed field and zig zagged through tacklers to score and tighten the numbers, but FRA led 22-17.
Immediately after, FRA fumbled the ball and SW GA recovered. But FRA had a magnificent goal line stand for four plays and held the Warriors with key stops made by Dalton Bowen, Tyler Crew, and Luke Hardaway of SW Ga’s LaGuardia, their go to guy.
FRA set up their offense on the 12, but a Williams’ fumble was scooped up and run in for the score plus their two-point conversion gave the Warriors the lead 23-22. In the clutch, the boys from Damascus produced.
FRA had a shining moment that was snuffed out: Chase Lewis’ 65-yard run down the sidelines was called back by an illegal procedure. But the Cats made it into the end zone later when Lewis caught a pass and got the lead back 30-23.
Southwest Georgia was equally determined and LaGuardia spotted a hole in the defense and turned on the speed from the 49 and scored to tie the game 30-30.
FRA had another bad snap that put too many yards to gain and ended with a punt. With 3:25 to go the Warriors’ speedy back Stephen Jackson ran up the middle from the 48 to score. The PAT was no good, but the Warriors led 36-30.
With the tension of time running out, FRA’s offense went to work with Williams passing to Williamson to get downfield, working left then right, some successful some incomplete. The Cats were inside the 20 and went to the flea flicker again. The ball was intercepted with less than a minute to go. The Cats lost their last home regular season game 36-30.
Friday night the Cats play Westfield in Perry on the Oct. 23 followed by facing Piedmont in Monticello on Oct. 30.