FOOTBALL: Gordon Lee rebounds against Heritage | Sports
After taking a few lumps in their opening scrum against Ringgold last Friday night, the Gordon Lee Trojans on Thursday hosted another foe from Catoosa County for the final preseason scrum, determined to make amends.
Gordon Lee scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and limited the visit to Heritage to a single point on the night to defeat the Generals, 14-7.
It was the only preseason scrum allowed for Heritage, as they opted for a spring scrum against Dalton in May.
Gordon Lee was outscored 332-238 on the night and didn’t attempt a single pass, but offered defensive play when they needed it.
“The most important thing, and I’ve always said it, we have to find our niche and I hope this team has found it tonight,” said GL head coach Josh Groce. “We played with a lot more physics. We knew what we were supposed to read and we attacked it a lot better, so hopefully tonight is what gets us going.”
The first touchdown came with 4:16 left in the first quarter as Conner Whitman, starting at full back, made a four-yard entry. Montgomery Kephart kicked the first of two extra runs to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
The home side recovered the ball once more before the end of the quarter and with 1:08 left in the period, Nate Dunfee went wild for a 44-yard touchdown gallop to increase his team’s advantage.
The generals would finally get on the set with only 31 seconds before the intermission. Kaden Swope hit JD Black for a 75-yard touchdown pass and Anderson Britton scored the extra point to halve Gordon Lee’s lead.
The second half was played mainly with reserve players.
Heritage would drop the ball inside Gordon Lee’s 20-yard line in the last minute of the game. But facing the fourth from the 16-yard line, a throw-in led to a fumble that Trojan defenseman Avery Bloodworth pounced on to end the night.
Gordon Lee’s footage came on 33 carried by 10 different backs. Dunfee led the way with 94 yards on seven carries, while Whitman ran six times for 28 yards. Holt Roberts had 22 yards on three carries, while quarterback Kade Cowan had three points for 21 yards. Brock Crutchfield had 40 yards on just two carries in the second half.
“There are a lot of things we still have to work on,” Groce added. “We’re still a long way from where we need to be, but it’s a good stepping stone. We’re getting closer.”
Heritage finished with 203 yards on 27 total carries with seven different full-backs sharing the load. Julian Sexton had five carries for 74 yards and Landon Cansler ran 10 times for 41 yards. Freshman Jacob Dawson had 50 yards on five second-half attempts.
Swope was 5 of 9 in the air for 106 yards, while Black led the receivers with two catches for 79 yards. Quarterback JC Armor completed 1 of 5 assists in the second half for 23 yards.
Both teams lost a fumble overnight. Heritage was penalized nine times for 60 yards, while Gordon Lee received only four penalties for 30 yards.
“I think Coach Groce does a great job with his kids,” Heritage head coach EK Slaughter said. “They had a really good week of training and they came out and really brought it to us. They approached the night pretty well. Some of our guys did and some didn’t, so I thought. that was a good lesson for us.
“We have to know who we are and we have to play the same way and be the same no matter who we are or who we play, whether it’s preseason or season. We need to get a little more focus about who we are in our own hearts and improving ourselves individually. “
Both teams open the regular season next Friday. Gordon Lee will travel to Trenton to take on longtime rival Dade County, while Heritage will also face a rival as they head to Battlefield Parkway to take on LFO. Kick-off of both matches at 7:30 p.m.
Scott Herpst is a sports writer for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., And Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.