With both the Chattahoochee Cougars and Johns Creek Gladiators struggling to capitalize on their opportunities, it was a few big plays on special teams and the passing game for the visiting Cougars that made the difference in their 23-7 win on Friday in Region 6-AAAAAA play.
The Cougars improved to 3-2 and 1-1 in region play, while the Gladiators remain winless (0-5, 0-2).
Cougars quarterback Taz Wilson helped to provide the offensive spark, passing for 300 yards and a touchdown on 12-for-20 passing. Collin Lisa caught four passes for 134 yards – including a 67-yard touchdown – and Avery Ward finished with 109 yards on five catches.
“We’ve got deep threats,” Wilson said. “I don’t see anybody beating our receiving corps in the state. I don’t see it. We’ve got smart kids who read and react – that’s what our coaches teach us, and that’s what we did.”
Wilson’s long touchdown pass to Lisa with 9:17 in the first half gave the Cougars the lead for good at 14-7. But the momentum may have been established on the game’s first play – a 95-yard touchdown return by Montel Austin on the opening kickoff.
Cougars running back Chase Nelson helped to put the game away in the second half, adding a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and a 35-yard run late in the fourth that put Chattahoochee at first-and-goal and allowed them to run out the clock. He finished with 143 all-purpose yards, including 88 on the ground.
“It’s nothing but going up from here,” Wilson said. “We should just win out and take the first seed in the playoffs. That’s what we’ve got to do if we want to get to that state championship. That’s our goal, and we’re going to accomplish it.”
The Gladiators got a strong effort from Chase Solomon, who rushed for 144 yards and Johns Creek’s only score. Johns Creek is off to the worst start in its six-year history after going 17-5 the previous two seasons. The Gladiators’ five-game losing streak tops a four-game losing streak in 2010.
Both teams take their bye week next before resuming region play Oct. 11, when Chattahoochee hosts South Forsyth and Johns Creek hosts West Forsyth.
Chattahoochee 7 7 6 3 – 23
Johns Creek 7 0 0 0 – 7
C – Montel Austin 95 kick return (Adam Abdellaoui kick)
J – Chase Solomon 1 run (Austin Ruoff kick)
C – Collin Lisa 67 pass from Taz Wilson (Abdellaoui kick)
C – Chase Nelson 5 run (kick failed)
C – Abdellaoui 45 FG
Follow Adam Krohn @AdamKrohnAJC.