Starr’s Mill did just enough to survive Fayette County and continue its dominance in the cross-county rivalry.
The Panthers, coming off a blowout loss to North Cobb in their season opener, took a 28-26 win over their cross-county rival behind 122 rushing John Smith and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from Seth White.
Fayette County missed a chance to steal the win in the final minute when Desmond Fletcher dropped a sure touchdown pass on third down. Starr’s Mill got a stop on fourth down and was able to run out the clock.
“You could say it was a gift,” said Starr’s Mill coach Chad Phillips, whose club amassed 321 total yards. “Just watching the game, they had a hard time stopping us.”
Fayette (0-2) suffered its 13th loss in 14 games against Starr’s Mill despite 193 yards passing from quarterback Daveion Nash, whose yardage included a 91-yard second-period touchdown pass to Ashton Jackson.
Starr’s Mill, which won its sixth straight over the Tigers, appeared bound for an easy win midway through the first quarter. The Panthers’ first two drives resulted in touchdowns, a 10-yard pass from Moseley to White and White’s recovery of a ball that Starr’s Mill running back John Smith fumbled into the Fayette end zone. After two drives Starr’s Mill had run 10 plays for 119 yards.
Fayette scored its first touchdown on Nash’s 28-yard pass to Desmond Fletcher, and had a chance to pull even after recovering a Starr’s Mill fumble at the Panther 41.
Fayette drove to the Starr’s Mill 4-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
The Panthers used 16 plays to drive from that point to the Fayette 12 before also falling short on fourth down, and three plays later Nash found Jackson sprinting down the right sideline. Jackson hauled in the pass, struggled to maintain his balance, fumbled the ball and had it bounce right back to him and ran untouched to the end zone.
Fayette’s two-point conversion failed, leaving Starr’s Mill with a 14-12 lead, and on the last snap before halftime, Starr’s Mill’s Gerren Smith Jr. intercepted a Nash pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
Aided by 35 yards in penalties, Fayette took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards on 12 plays, scoring on Jollyce Myrick’s 4-yard run. Myrick’s two-point conversion cut the Starr’s Mill lead to 21-20.
Patrick Mullins’ 13-yard run extended the lead to 28-20, and Nash pulled Fayette within two with a 17-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Fayette County 6 6 8 6 – 26
Starr’s Mill 14 7 7 0 – 28
SM – Seth White 10 pass from Kyle Moseley (Elijah Bragg kick)
SM – White recovered fumble in end zone (Bragg kick)
FC – Desmond Fletcher 28 pass from Daveion Nash (kick failed)
FC – Ashton Jackson 91 pass from Nash (run failed)
SM – Gerren Smith Jr. 27 interception return (Bragg kick)
FC – Jollyce Myrick 4 run (Myrick run)
SM – Patrick Mullins 13 run (Bragg kick)
FC – Nash 17 run (run failed)