It wasn’t fancy, but it was plenty effective. Georgia used 10 ball carriers and pounded Tennessee on the ground to snap a three-year losing streak with a 31-21 victory Saturday night at Baylor in the annual all-star football game involving recent area graduates.
Georgia’s all-stars outrushed Tennessee 265-58, led by former Ridgeland running back Paul Walton and Hiram’s Trey Wesley, who each finished with 90 yards. Walton was named the game’s MVP and set a Tennessee-Georgia all-star record with a 47-yard scoring run.
Wesley had the game-clinching 37-yard scoring run, converting a fourth-and-8 with 3:16 left in the game.
“We had talked all week about how our state had lost three straight to them and we were tired of hearing about it,” Wesley said. “Our offensive line was great. The holes were huge and they made our job really easy to run the ball any time we wanted.
“We knew we were strong up front and had a lot of speed, and we took advantage of that.”
Georgia dominated the first half, racing out to a 17-0 lead late in the second quarter, and maintained at least a 10-point lead the rest of the way. By halftime Georgia had outrushed Tennessee 155-27 to set the tone.
Georgia’s first scoring drive ended with a Miguel Martinez 23-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter. At that point, Georgia had 21 snaps to Tennessee’s 3.
“We had two distinct groups that separated themselves as the week of practice went on,” said Dade County coach Bradley Warren, who coached the Georgians. “Our wing-T group was called ‘Thunder’ and we named our spread guys ‘Lightning,’ and we used both of those sets equally well because of our linemen and the job they did up front.”
Walton’s 47-yard run and a 3-yard TD by Dade County’s John Hampton gave Georgia a commanding 17-0 lead with just 2:15 remaining before halftime.
On the ensuing possession, Signal Mountain’s Donnie Garner sparked Tennessee with a 14-yard run, lowering his shoulder to run over one Georgia defender, then dragging several others for the final 3 yards. Rhea County quarterback Cameron Talent then connected with Red Bank receiver Kelvin Clay on consecutive passes, the second covering 35 yards for a touchdown.
But when Georgia drove 70 yards in just six plays on its second possession of the third quarter, with Hampton scoring his second short-yardage TD of the game, the outcome was settled.
“We knew they were bigger than us up front and they just wore on us, especially in the first half,” said South Pittsburg coach Vic Grider, who served as Tennessee’s head coach. “The two turnovers in the first half that gave them a short field didn’t help, and then their defense really stepped up and stopped us when we had a chance early in the second half to get back in it.”
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...