East Coweta stays atop region with rout of Tri-Cities
By DOUG GORMAN
East Coweta is back in business.
After falling to 1-4 in the first half of the season, the Indians are now a legitimate playoff contender.
With the victory, the Indians (3-4) have won two games in a row and moved to 2-0 in Region 3-AAAAAA play.
East Coweta’s win, and Newnan loss to Langston Hughes, moves the Indians to the top of the region standings. It also sets up a huge showdown between East Coweta and Langston Hughes next week in Fairburn for sole possession of first place.
“This was big,” said East Coweta head coach Clint Wade. “I am so proud of our kids that worked hard and they are starting to believe.”
(To view photos from many of this week's Homecoming activities including Friday's game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture/ for the Photo Gallery.)
East Coweta scored on its first two possessions of the game to take a 14-0 lead. The Indians, however, were only getting started as they exploded for a 30-0 half time lead. At one point, East Coweta had outscored its last two opponents 65-0 over a span of five quarters between halftime last week against Westlake and the third quarter of Friday’s game.
East Coweta set the tone for the game on the first play from scrimmage when Bryce Gemmel connected with Markel Boston on a 43-yard pass. Dee Godfrey kept the drive alive on third down later in the series when he picked up 17 yards on a run.
“That play was really big for us,” Wade said. “That set the tempo for the rest of the night.”
Godfrey finished the drive one play later when he score on a five-yard run.
Gemmel had one of his best night’s since taking over as the Indians’ starting quarterback at the beginning of the season. The junior quarterback finished with 201 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Gemmel says the opening pass is something that the team has been trying to execute all season.
“It started two games ago when we started trying to throw the ball deep,” Gemmel said.
“I knew I could get open and the play was going to be there,” he said.”I got a good step on the cornerback and just had a burst of speed.”
East Coweta forced the Bulldogs to punt on their first series of the game and the Indians’ offense went right back to work finding the end zone in just three plays. The Indians converted a third down and long into a touchdown when Nigel Gay caught Gemmel’s 54-yard touchdown pass.
East Coweta relied on big plays by both the offense and the defense in the second quarter to seize the momentum.
After Tri-Cities fumbled the ball in the end zone for a East Coweta safety, the Indians added two touchdowns in a span of about two minutes.
Gemmel threw his second touchdown of the game following the safety when he found Boston on a 34-yard pass.
Godfrey then came up with two huge plays on both sides of the ball. The Indians two-way standout intercepted a Tri-Cities pass midway through the second quarter to set up the final score of the half. Gemmel again called Godfrey’s number and the running back made good, rolling in from the one on a fourth-down play.
Tri-Cities moved the ball into East Coweta territory on their last drive, but Tyler Brown killed the drive when he came up with the Indians' second interception of the game.
Despite building a big lead early, the Indians shot themselves in the foot with penalties in the first half getting whistled for three holding calls and a personal foul. However, the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage picking up only four first downs in the first half.
It didn’t get any better in the second half for the Bulldogs.
Using a short field, the Indians scored back-to-back touchdowns to open the third quarter.
Tri-Cities ran just one play on its opening second-half series before turning the ball over on a fumble. Quan Whatley recovered it for the Indians.
Gemmel then used his feet to go along with his two touchdown passes, scoring on a 27-yard run.
Weylin Orr added the final touchdown of the night on a four-yard run.
Orr finished the game with 88 yards and nearly scored a second touchdown but was pulled down just short of the goal line.
Tri-Cities prevented the shutout with two scores by Charles McClendon in the fourth quarter. Playing against a running clock, the Bulldogs moved the ball 97 yards to set up their first touchdown. McClendon's second touchdown was set after the Bulldogs recovered an on-side kick.
Special teams also played a big role in the East Coweta win. Spencer Smith kicked all seven extra points through the uprights.
He also forced the Bulldogs to start with bad field position, kicking the ball into the end zone six times for touchbacks.
Tri-Cities turnovers came on three straight series.
The Bulldogs were picked in a coaches and media poll to win the Region 3-AAAAAA title, but it hasn’t gone well for Tri-Cities. The Bulldogs lost for the fourth time in a row, and dropped to 2-5 on the year.
SCORING SUMMARY – East Coweta 44, Tri-Cities 15
Tri-Cities 0 0 0 15 –15
East Coweta 14 16 14 0 – 44
EC — Dee Godfrey 5 run (Spencer Smith kick), 10:14
EC — Bryce Gemmel 54 pass to Nigel Gay (Smith kick), 4:54
EC — Tri-Cities fumbles in end zone for safety, 7:01
EC — Gemmel 34 pass to Markell Boston ( Smith kick), 5:56
EC — Godfrey 1 run (Smith kick), 3:09
EC — Gemmell 27 run (Smith kick), 11:41
EC — Weylin Orr 4 run (Smith kick), 4:30
TC — Charles McClendon (kick good), 3:33
TC — McClendon (2-point conversion good), 1:15