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Photo by Wayne Grandy/Georgia-Florida News
Photo by Wayne Grandy/Georgia-Florida News

Everyone across the state of Georgia was anticipating the matchup between the defense of Grayson and the offense of Colquitt County, but the Class AAAAA semifinal contest between the Rams and the Packers was decided by the other two units. The Grayson offense sparked the Rams early after the home team’s defense rose up to force an early turnover from the Packers. Sophomore defensive end standout Robert Nkemdiche used all 6’5, 250lb to bull into the endzone on fourth down for an early 7-0 lead.

Colquitt County would respond by marching 80 yards thanks to several big plays through the air. Tyler Brown connected with Tommy Hudson for three catches, including a ten-yard strike for a score on third down to pull to 7-6. Hudson snagged the pass with Grayson’s Camen Marshall draped all over his back providing defense.

After forcing a three and out, the Colquitt offense was back and after a first down, Tevin King took a reception on the wheel route down to the four yard line and then found the endzone on his next carry. Packer coach Rush Propst elected to go for two and Brown found King off play-action for a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, after Grayson had not allowed any sort of first half score in these playoffs.

Grayson’s Austin Clark nailed a 47-yard field goal to open up the second quarter, which cut the Packers’ lead to 14-10, but Rich Tyndall was able to answer with a 25-yard of his own to push the lead back to seven 17-10, where it would stay at halftime after Tyndall missed a 37-yard attempt right before intermission.

Grayson took the ball to open the second half and picked up a fourth down in Colquitt territory before deciding to go for it again on 4th and six on the 30-yard line. Denzel Nkemdiche picked up a 25-yard gain, setting up his younger brother for Robert’s second score of the night. Clark’s extra point knotted the game at 17-17. Denzel wasn’t finished in the third quarter as the senior raced around the corner after reversing his course in the backfield and taking it to the corner of the endzone for a 24-17 Rams lead.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hudson took a hitch on third down 64 yards for his eighth catch of the night and his second score to knot the game at 24-24. Grayson suddenly lost the ball on a fumble two plays later and the Packers recovered inside the redzone. Several Tevin King carries later and the Packers boasted a 31-24 lead after King found paydirt from inside the one.

Then the Packer defense decided the game after getting the late lead by snuffing out the last-ditch effort of Grayson with blitzes and pressure to advance to the Georgia Dome for a shot at Rush Propst’s first Georgia state title.