FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Braves hold on; Trojans come back home with a W; Dawgs fall to Johnson
Howard – 19
Baldwin – 20
GRIFFIN – The Braves narrowly avoided what would've been a disastrous loss in terms of their state playoff chances, holding on for a one-point victory over the visitors from north Macon.
Howard, a newer high school, was looking for its first-ever victory over Baldwin. It didn't happen, however, and the Braves are now a perfect 9-0 in the all-time series against the Huskies, which dates back to 2010.
Trailing 13-12 with less than five minutes left in the game, quarterback Lamar Pounds found tight end Jaylen King on a 5-yard touchdown pass. King, only a sophomore, is one of the most promising football prospects to come through Milledgeville in a while. King primarily plays defensive end for Baldwin, but he also moonlights on offense, showing elite athleticism on both sides of the ball.
Following the touchdown, Baldwin lined up for a two-point conversion, and Pounds scrambled into the endzone to increase the Braves' lead to 20-19.
Those two points proved to be the difference in the ballgame, as Howard then marched the ball down the field in the final minutes and scored a touchdown with seconds left to play, making the score 20-19. The Huskies' extra point sailed wide right, however, and Baldwin escaped with the 1-point victory.
The Braves are now 4-2 overall and 1-1 in GHSA Region 2-AAAA. The top four teams make the playoffs, with the top two seeds earning at least one home playoff game. The top two teams appear to be Spalding and Perry. Spalding, which beat Baldwin 34-0 last Friday night, is No. 8 in the state, while Perry is No. 3 in the state.
The Braves will get their shot at Perry in two weeks in west Houston County. The Panthers have won the region championship three years in a row, beating Baldwin three times in the process.
John Milledge – 49
Pinewood – 33
BELLVILLE – In their first game without quarterback Kolt McMichael, who tore his ACL in last Friday night's homecoming win, the Trojans picked up a win on the road in a rematch of the 2021 state championship game.
JMA picked up its state record 56th consecutive victory, although Head Coach J.T. Wall probably wasn't super excited on the bus ride back to Milledgeville. The Trojans have now allowed 61 points in their last two games after only allowing 29 points in the first four games of the season. For perspective, JMA only allowed 77 points during the entire 2022 season, a mere 16 more points than it's given up in the last two Friday nights, a 62-28 win over Brookwood and the 49-33 over Pinewood.
JMA is now 18-9 in the all-time series against Pinewood, which dates back to 1980. Not too long ago, 2014 to be exact, the Patriots held a slight edge in the series, but the Trojans have now reeled off 10 straight victories, all 10 by double digits and seven by at least four touchdowns.
The Trojans will take next Friday night off before hosting Stratford on Oct. 13, which is shaping up to be the biggest regular season home game on Log Cabin Road in recent memory.
Johnson Co. – 47
GMC Prep – 16
Although it's not quite the Herschel Walker era, the Trojans from Wrightsville are playing some of their best ball in school history. Johnson went 13-1 last season and won the region championship and once again appears to be the team to beat in the region this season.
The Dawgs (1-5, 0-1) fought hard early before the Trojans gradually pulled away. Despite dropping its region opener on Friday night and sporting a 1-5 record, GMC still has a legitimate shot of making the state playoffs. GHSA Region 5-A Divsion II consists of six teams, and four will make the playoffs. Johnson looks like the only sure thing, while Twiggs County is completely hapless and has only scored three touchdowns all season, and Wilkinson County is in a rebuilding year and struggling mightily, while Glascock County isn't exactly world beaters, with its lone two wins of 2023 coming against GISA Class AA teams.
In terms of playoff positioning, GMC's game next Friday night against Wilkinson County in Irwinton will be crucial. The Dawgs have beaten the Warriors three straight seasons. The 2020 victory was especially sweet for GMC and snapped a 16-game losing streak against Wilco that dated all the way back to 1965.