Excuse South Fulton’s coaching staff if they skipped the homecoming festivities following the locals’ 34-14 loss to Fulton County Friday night.
Corbin Hawks hauls in a pass during South Fultons 34-14 loss to Fulton County.
Moments after the downfall to the Pilots — which may have represented the final legitimate chance for a second Red Devil victory this year — a flame of disappointment was lit within SF head coach Gwin Wood.
“I’m not a happy camper tonight,” Wood said. “We’ve got a better ball club than what we displayed in the second half. We showed that in the first half but they got us down in the second half and we didn’t get back up.
“Everybody says I’ve mellowed over the years, but things are going to change. I’m going to start coaching like I used to.”
Fulton County’s LaDrekus Moffatt led the way with 279 yards on 22 carries for the victors. The ever-elusive running back left a plethora of SF defenders in his tracks over the course of the win due to his standout ability to switch directions in an instant.
“He’s a hard back to defend,” Wood explained. “We told our guys to try and wrap him up because if you dive at him, by the time you get there, he’s gone.”
In the early going, the game seemed to be pointing in the Devils’ direction.
George Garmon nearly picked off a Shun Udley aerial for an interception during SF’s first defensive effort with teammate Skylar Cherry recording a fourth-down sack of the Pilots’ QB for a 15-yard loss to force a turnover on downs during the visitors’ second offensive series.
After Cherry’s sack, Jonathan Avent, who returned to the team after a knee injury kept him off the field in last week’s 41-6 loss to Bruceton, was a key component in his team’s first score.
Avent ran a sweep to the left side for 25 yards on the third play of the drive as SF arrived in the Fulton County red zone. The sophomore RB found paydirt two plays later from 10 yards out to give the Red Devils a 7-0 advantage after the point-after attempt was put through the uprights by Armando Gonzalez.
The Pilots (2-3) rushed back with a quick scoring march. Moffatt quickly set the table with a 54-yard sprint on the drive’s second snap.
Two plays later on what was the first play of the second quarter, Shun Udley plunged across the goal line from three yards out. Moffatt took in the two-point conversion, and FC held an 8-7 lead at halftime.
Moffatt was again the setup man for a touchdown after SF was forced to punt early in the third quarter. The tailback danced around the Red Devils’ defense to avoid three sure-thing tackles thanks to his fancy foot work. When the run ended, Moffatt had moved 56 yards from the line of scrimmage to the South Fulton 30.
A couple plays later, Tony Udley joined his younger sibling Shun in the scoring summary on a 30-yard dash into the end zone. Shun Udley took in a keeper for the two-pointer to put the Pilots up 16-7 with 5:43 remaining in the third.
SF lived and died with the pass in its the next offensive series.
The drive opened with a short slant pattern pass tossed from quarterback Hunter Harris to Corbin Hawks for what turned out to be a 35-yard gain when the South Fulton split end was finally taken down. After a three-yard run by Joe Shelton and an incompletion, Harris hooked up with Garmon for a fresh set of downs after an 11-yard gain.
After a delay of game penalty, Harris was pressured in the pocket. With one defender tugging at his neck in an attempt to sack the quarterback, the signal caller tossed up a wobbly pass to avoid the takedown.
Unfortunately for the Red Devils’ faithful, Tony Udley was right under where the floater fell and the senior dashed 81 yards into the end zone to put the Pilots ahead 22-7.
Shun Udley found paydirt once more in the final quarter from three yards out with Malcolm Caldwell carrying in a wide-receiver reverse across the goal line’s plane with just over two minutes to go.
For SF, Gonzalez ran for his first career touchdown with 33 seconds remaining in the game. The backup tailback is a transfer from Todd Central (Ky.) who had only played soccer in his prior athletic experiences. He has been on the Red Devils’ squad since Week 2.
Defensively, Avent had 12 takedowns with Hawks recording seven stops for South Fulton. Cherry, Garmon and Holden McConnell each had six tackles in the loss.
The Red Devils return to Region 8-1A action this Friday against Greenfield at home.
Game Notes: South Fulton offensive/defensive lineman Sam Curtis is out for the rest of the season, according to Wood. The 6-foot-4 sophomore injured his knee during practice Sept. 19. Curtis is scheduled to go under the knife to repair cartilage damage, strained ligaments and a bruised bone this week. … Fulton County’s win evens up the all-time series against South Fulton at 15-15. … Moffatt became the third running back to rush for more than 250 yards vs. the Red Devils this year. Fulton City’s Daeron Williams and Bruceton’s Chad Jordan are the other two.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.