Image: Knights Wear-Down the Chargers, Still Control Path to Playoffs

TJ Searcy wraps up the ball before powering into the end zone for Upson-Lee's first score. 

“We just kind of gritted it out,” said Coach Justin Elder following Upson-Lee’s 35-0 victory over Central-Macon. “Played a clean game and did what we had to do to win. That was a big win for us.”

In a game where Upson-Lee was missing multiple key players, the Knights stepped up and controlled the game from start to finish. Upson-Lee racked up 341 yards of total offense while allowing just 109 to the Chargers.

Upson-Lee scored on five of its seven drives. The only drives the Knights did not score on were a missed fourth-down conversion and the last drive of the game when time ran out.

“TJ Searcy, Jadarius White, and De’Travious Mathis all just really stepped up tonight,” said Elder, “I was really proud of them. We had some young guys step up.”

TJ Searcy punched in the Knights’ first touchdown with 6:47 remaining in the first quarter. Keyston Smith and Bentavious Reviere both scored touchdowns along with JaQuan Bentley who scored two.

Smith picked up 75 yards on just four carries including two plays that went for over 20 yards on the ground. Bentley led the team in rushing with 124 yards.

Reviere’s rushing touchdown was the final score of the game to push the lead to 35-0 with 6:00 to play in the game. The freshman’s touchdown exemplified what this game was all about for the Knights. New guys stepped up at almost every position and the Knights played a dominant game.

Upson-Lee came into the game already missing its two starting wingbacks and defensive backs KJ Rockemore and Jerius Braswell. Late in the first quarter, Tre Bloodser had to leave the game due to an injury and he did not return. The Knights were incredibly short-manned, but they found a way to still play their game.

De’Travious Mathis rushed for 81 yards and played his first game at defensive back. He did not start preparing to play defensive back until mid-week and he was a part of a secondary that only allowed 54 passing yards. Freshman Akeondre Chaney stepped up for the Knights at free safety and helped Upson-Lee blank the Chargers.

“The defense has really stepped up the last couple of weeks and played really good,” said Elder.

Upson-Lee’s offensive line paved the way for a big night on the ground for the Knights. From the first drive on, the Chargers’ defensive line was no match for Upson-Lee’s physicality. Smith’s 29-yard rushing touchdown with 1:35 left in the second quarter was Upson-Lee’s longest play. Other than that, the Knights pieced together long drives that ate up the clock and wore down the undersized Chargers.

With the win, Upson-Lee moves into the bye week 2-2 in Region 2-AAA. The Knights sit in the same position as last year at this time. Their two losses mean they have a difficult path to the playoffs; however, they still control their own destiny. The Knights will play Mary Persons, Peach County, and Jackson to wrap up the season. If the Knights can win two of three, they will be in the state playoffs by their own power. If Upson-Lee does not win two of three they will need some help from other teams to open up a lane for the Knights to sneak into the big dance.

Upson-Lee’s win over a winless Central-Macon team may not seem entirely impressive from the scorebooks and the standings, but Upson-Lee overcame a few major hurdles and still looked dominant in the win. The Knights only turned the ball over on downs one time and were rarely penalized. It was the Knights’ cleanest, most efficient game of the season which bodes well for the upcoming stretch run.

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