By Stan Awtrey
For the AJC
It would have been easy for Peachtree Ridge to deviate from its game plan after falling behind early. Instead the Lions kept to the script, satisfied with handing the ball off and looked for the long-term rewards.
The result was a 23-17 win over Walton and a successful senior debut for Virginia-bound Jordan Ellis, who rushed 27 times – 19 in the second half – for 125 yards and one touchdown.
“We weren’t settled down,” Peachtree Ridge coach Mark Fleetwood said. “I thought if we would stick with what we were doing, we’d be OK. The offense was doing some things early and I thought it we didn’t get crazy we’d be OK.”
Giving the ball to Ellis wasn’t crazy at all. He had 103 yards in the second half and scored on a 6-yard run with 3:39 left in the third quarter that turned out to be the winning score.
“We had the jitters early,” Ellis said. “We just had to get it out of our system.”
Peachtree Ridge (1-0) was breaking in a new set of coordinators and trying to erase the memory of last year’s 42-0 loss to Camden County in the 2012 Corky Kell Kickoff Classic. Quarterback Chance Thrasher completed 10 of 23 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown. He also got a critical first down on third-and-9 keeper that was instrumental in helping the Lions nearly run out the final six minutes of the clock.
Walton (0-1) was led by tailback K.K. Brooks, who ran 22 times for 120 yards. Quarterback Price Wilson completed 14 of 27 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Peachtree Ridge used the big play to stay in the game in the first half. Myron Burton returned the opening kickoff 77 yards, but the Lions had to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Evan Pantels.
Wilson had a pair of touchdown passes in the first half to pace the Walton attack. He connected with Maurice Gibson for a 14-yard score and executed a play-action pass to Jordan McCray for a 35-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
That’s when Burton struck again. He easily beat his defender on a plain dropback pass from Thrasher and hauled in a 63-yard touchdown.
A Peachtree Ridge mistake set up the next Walton score. Thrasher’s pass to Jordan Ellis was ruled a lateral and Walton’s Zach Williams picked up the loose ball. That set up a 32-yard field goal by Christian Lucas.
The Ridge followed with two field goals. Pantels kicked a 35-yarder and added a 53-yarder at the end of the second half, a score set up by Dru Moody’s interception with 16 seconds left.
“That field goal at the end of the half was big for us,” Fleetwood said.
Peachtree Ridge –10-6- 7-0–23
Walton – 14-3-0-0–17
PR – FG Evan Pantels 29
W – Maurice Gibson 14 pass from Price Wilson (Christian Lucas kick)
W – Jordan McCray 35 pass from Price Wilson (Lucas kick)
PR – Myron Burton 63 pass from Chance Thrasher (Pantels kick)
W – FG Lucas 32
PR – FG Pantels 35
PR – FG Pantels 53
PR – Jordan Ellis 6 run (Pantels kick)