Football: Leopards overcome slow start to down Oglethorpe Co.

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The Banks County Leopards opened Region 8-AA play with an emphatic win on the road at Social Circle last week.
Friday night against Oglethorpe County at home, the Leopards secured their second-straight region win with a 31-7 victory; however, if you asked head coach Jay Reid how he felt on the team’s second region win, he will tell you “every win is a big win,” but his group “didn’t play its best ball.”

“I’ve been saying for weeks we’ve got to clean some things up,” Reid said. “We’ve got to come out with a little more focus and a little bit more determination.
“I want our guys to play their best every week. I’m happy for the victory, but then again we didn’t play our best and that’s a little bit disappointing.”
The Leopards (3-2, 2-0 Region 8-AA) were led by Terrance Walker’s 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Sawyer Pace accounted for two touchdowns: one via the ground, the second a 6-yard pass to Jacob Lehotsky.
The Leopards’ defense caused chaos for Oglethorpe County. The defense created four turnovers and allowed only 146 total yards.
“They flew around at times and played well at times,” Reid said of the defense. “Early on in the game, we missed some fits and it wasn’t really good for us.
“I think we learned some great things tonight, too, that’s going to help the maturity of our football team. I think it’s the battle that you have to go through and I think our kids understand that now, and I don’t think they’ll let this happen again.”
Reid admitted his group may have been “looking ahead” to next week’s matchup vs. Rabun County.
“Next week will be a big test for us,” Reid said. “I think our kids will play a lot harder than tonight.
“I don’t want to sound like a downer, but I just expect a lot from our kids. I know they’re capable of a lot.”
The Leopards’ offense stumbled out of the gates. On the team’s first offensive play, Walker reeled off a 12-yard run but fumbled, giving the ball to Oglethorpe. The defense allowed only one first down on the Patriots’ drive and got the ball back into the Leopards’ hands.
The Leopards’ second drive was methodical, going 84 yards in 12 plays. The offense ran it 10 times on the drive and Pace hit Walker on a 20-yard pass play. The drive ended with a 6-yard Walker touchdown run and the Leopards led 7-0 with 1:27 left in the first quarter.
The defense came up big on the next drive, forcing the first of four turnovers. Zack Dean recovered the Patriots’ fumble. Five plays later, Walker was in the end zone for a second time. The Leopards led 14-0 with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
On the next drive, a pass-interference call kept the Leopards’ drive alive. Three plays later, Pace hit Lehotsky for a 6-yard touchdown. The lead was 21-0 and stayed the same for halftime.
On their first drive of the third quarter, Lehotsky pulled off a 25-yard scamper on a fake punt for the Leopards. But the drive ended in a turnover on downs.
After a Josh Stapleton fumble recovery, the Leopards got on the board in third quarter when Erwin Durmic connected on a 26-yard field goal. The Leopards led 24-0 with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
Another Patriots’ fumble (recovered by Dawson Welborn) again yielded points for the Leopards. The final score came via a Pace 1-yard run with 1:33 left in the third quarter.
The Patriots’ lone touchdown came with 2:06 left in the game.

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