For the second week in a row, the Knights dominated their opponents statistically, but unfortunately for the second week in a row the Knights came away with a tough loss.
The Knights welcomed the Stockbridge Tigers, who were ranked in the top 15 in the state according to the Associated Press. Upson-Lee led the Tigers in total offense, with the Knights gaining a total of 217 yards, and holding the Tigers to just 137 yards. Upson-Lee finished with 15 first downs, compared to Stockbridge’s seven first downs. Yet the Knights fell short on the score board by a 13-3 score.
“Our effort was much better tonight than it was last week,” said Knights head coach Tommy Watson. “They are a really good football team that won nine games last year and have many of those players from that team back. Defensively, I felt that we played about as well as we could play, with the exception of one play early in the game which cost us a touchdown. Offensively, we need to execute better. We will get back to work this week, and come out ready to play Friday night in McDonough.”
The Knights suffered from poor field position throughout the first quarter, while also having some trouble holding on to the football. The Knights fumbled twice in the first quarter, but luckily recovered both fumbles. After stalling out on their first offensive drive, the Knights were forced to punt the ball away.
On the Tigers’ first drive of the game, they took advantage of one of the Knights rare mistakes on defense. The Tigers quarterback faked the dive up the middle, and pitched the ball to running back Shammua Harold, who scampered for a 23-yard touchdown run, capping off the three-play 33 yard drive. The Tigers’ PAT was good, and with 8:52 left in the first quarter, the Knights trailed 7-0.
Much of the Knights offense in the first half consisted of senior quarterback Corey Moss, who finished the first half with 20 carries for 82 yards. Upson-Lee continued to try and flip field position, starting most drives inside their own 20-yard line.
The Knights finally got on the scoreboard with just 1:07 remaining in the first half. Upson-Lee junior Tyler Stewart booted a 40-yard field goal, cutting the Knights’ deficit to 7-3, which was the score at the half.
The Knights defense continued to stifle the Tigers in the second half, including some very impressive plays defensively from freshman cornerback Shamare Bailey. The freshman finished with two pass break-ups and six tackles in the game.
In the fourth quarter, the Knights began to feed freshman running back Kenderius (K.D.) Pennyman. The Knights offensive line started firing off the ball, opening up holes for Moss and Pennyman. Pennyman finished the game with 59 yards on 12 carries, many of those yards coming in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 7-3 in the fourth quarter, the Knights were facing a fourth down and yard to go. After methodically marching down the field, the Knights were stopped just short of the first down marker and turned the ball over on downs deep in Tiger territory.
The Knights defense held tough once again, forcing the Tigers to punt. With just over a minute left in the game, the Knights took control of the ball on their own 25-yard line. Corey Moss found junior wide receiver Toby Fuentes for a 22-yard reception. Fuentes was able to get out of bounds to stop the clock.
On the next play Moss found Kelton Raines in the flats for a three-yard reception. Raines had room to run, but unfortunately lost his footing, falling down, and the clock continued to run. With time expiring, and the ball near mid-field, Moss looked to Fuentes again deep down the field. The pass was incomplete, but the Tigers were called for defensive pass interference with no time on the clock.
With just one play left for the Knights to find some magic, Upson-Lee tried a little trickery. Pennyman took the ball on a sweep, then looked back for Moss running down the field. The play was read by Malik Bryan, the Tigers’ safety. Bryan picked off the pass, and scored on a 55-yard interception return with no time on the clock, sealing the Tigers’ 13-3 victory.
Knights’ junior defensive lineman Chris Duncan re-injured his hip in the second half, and was carted off the field. It was Duncan’s first game of the season, as he was recovering from a hip injury from pre-season practice. It is unknown how much time Duncan will miss, but he is reportedly in good spirits and now recovering from his injury.
Upson-Lee will hit the road to face the Golden Eagles from Eagle’s Landing High School on Friday night in McDonough. The Eagles (0-2) lost to Lamar County by a 41-30 score last week. Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.