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Facing new obstacles, PCHS keeps perfect record

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    DJ Bland (4) gave the War Eagle defense another touchdown on the 2021 season with an 89-yard interception return Friday. ARELLA CASH/Staff

If one’s memory only goes back to the start of the current regular season, it could be said the Putnam County High football team was in unfamiliar territory through the first half and deep into the third quarter Friday at Al Reaves Field. Not only were the War Eagles not pitching a shutout but they were also trailing the non-region clash with Social Circle High.

But with Gerald Kilgore’s 62-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to sophomore Kewon Blue with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter and senior Cedrion Brundage rushing for 112 second half yards and scoring two touchdowns for the third straight game, Putnam County surged to a 3-0 start heading into the Region 4-AA portion of the schedule. The home defense accounted for bookend touchdowns as well, the final score 42-22.

That War Eagle defense was riding a string of consecutive shutouts at Morgan County and at home against Jasper County. It wasn’t on the defense, however, that the 0 came off the visitor side. A kickoff return touchdown was Social Circle’s response to DJ Bland’s first-quarter 89-yard interception return into end zone.

The Redskin offense, under the direction of 6-6 quarterback Logan Cross, methodically moved into the Putnam ‘red zone’ threatening to put PC behind for the first time in three games. Bland picked-off the 3 rd -and-6 throw and raced down the home sidelines. Tino Reyes hit the PAT kick for the 7-0 lead with almost six minutes gone in the quarter.

Dyshon Hyman of the Redskins went 86 yards on the ensuing kickoff.

Not only did the opposition score on Putnam for the first time, but still in the opening quarter the War Eagle offense committed the first turnover of 2021. Social Circle recovered a fumble on its 41-yardline, but the tackling of Malik Thornton on the short outside completions forced the visitors to punt.

Only one time in the first half did a Redskin offensive play go for more than 10 yards. It had the potential to be a difference-maker as Cross, on 2 nd -and-8 from his 27, went up top to Mason Moore. This was the first lead taken on the War Eagles as Moore scored the touchdown, and the play carried more significance for the first half.

Putnam was called for offsides on the PAT try, so Social Circle’s bench opted for a two-point conversion. Cross spread the field and hit Moore again in the back of the end zone.

The Redskins led by eight, 15-7, with 13.5 seconds left, and the War Eagle offense was still looking for its signature explosiveness with only three first downs and the giveaway. Kilgore completed 10 passes in the half for 137 yards, but Putnam was unable to capitalize on a 31-yard completion to Bland with a facemask foul tacked on.

Aside from the 73-yard touchdown, Social Circle had 66 other yards in the half. Tra Smith got into the backfield for a stop, Keontay Card knocked down a pass and Unique Reid put pressure on Cross to end the next two Redskin drives.

War Eagle coach Shaun Pope had to be looking for Putnam to put together a long, sustained drive, and he got it late in the half. In 11 plays, his team covered 81 yards with two third-and-long conversions. Brayon Farley caught a 13-yard pass over the middle on 3 rd -and-11, and Kilgore ran for his life to go from the Redskin 47 to the 34 on 3 rd -and-10.

With 1:33 until halftime, Kilgore fired away to Thornton on the next snap to score. Pope elected to keep Reyes kicking the PATs, so it was a one-point game, 15-14, at halftime.

Before the half ended, Brundage and Tamarion Peters laid serious hits on the opposing running back.

In the third quarter, it appeared another penalty on the War Eagles was going to have a major impact in the outcome. Putnam’s offense was trying to work out of bad field position, but it got worse on a blindside block foul. Chase Lupton punted the football, and the Redskins were spotted on the PC 48. Though a three-and-out followed, Social Circle’s punter rolled the ball to the 1.

Putnam’s offense, and the rest of the game, belonged to Brundage as he carried five straight – two as quarterback – to his 38. It was 3 rd -and-7 when Kilgore hit Blue in stride, and Blue outraced a taller defender over the goal line. At 2:34, Reyes kicked Putnam to a 21-15 lead.

Cross hit two more deep throws late in the second half, but after a 36-yard completion to the PC 15 at the end of the third, Thornton’s and Smith’s tackles forced the Redskins to lose the ball on downs.

Zemarion Little gave Putnam five totes out of the backfield for 35 yards, and after pass interference spotted the ball on the 30, Brundage executed a run of field reversal and stiff arms to score a 24-yard touchdown at 6:39.

With the score 28-15, Cross covered 67 yards in three completions, 20 on a touchdown to Moore. It took on 34 seconds to get the Redskins back within one score at 28-22.

But the War Eagle line gave Little, Kilgore and Brundage hole after hole, 56 yards in nine rushes with Brundage scoring from nine out at 2:15.

Reyes had his first perfect PAT kicking game, freshman Blake Tiller sacked Cross on the SC 9, and Putnam caused a fumble from Cross in the end zone Michael Crumbley recovered for six more touchdown points and the 42-22 final. Social Circle was held to 108 second-half yards.

Brundage had a total of 118 yards rushing on 15 carries, and Little also rushed 15 times 91 yards. Kilgore overall was 12-for-19 passing for 204 yards.