WALNUT GROVE, Ga. — The Walnut Grove High School football team needed a Region 8-AAAAA in the worst way Friday night.
When all was said and done, the Warriors saw the lights turned off on their football postseason hopes for 2021 after a disappointing 13-0 loss to visiting Eastside High School.
The second half proved to be a case of “almost” for the home team as WGHS had multiple scoring opportunities.
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Warriors (3-6 overall, 2-3 region) had the first possession of the second half and moved deep into Eastside territory. It appeared Kendall Lee had reached the end zone but the after a conference, the officials ruled a fumble had occurred and the Eagles had recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
Before the turnover, the drive had covered 79 yards and used 14 plays using 9:11 off the clock. That turnover call seemed to deflate Walnut Grove as Eastside (6-3, 4-2) added its second touchdown two plays later on an 89-yard run by Dallas Johnson with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter. The point-after attempt failed.
The Warriors continued to fight, however, with another long drive moving again to the 1-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Lee was tackled for a loss. Lee had been knocked out of the game on the second and goal play after he attempted to reach the end zone on another quarterback keeper. That turnover on downs with 2:38 sealed the win for the visitors.
Walnut Grove had needed wins in their final two region games to keep its postseason hopes alive.
The Warriors defense rose up early forcing Eastside to go three-and-out on the first series of the contest. The Eagles gained one first down on their second possession before being forced to punt again.
Walnut Grove was unable to move the football on their initial series, due in part to a penalty.
The Warriors took possession at their own 43 to begin their series moving into Eastside territory but had to punt for the second time.
The Eagles ended the scoreless game on a 38-yard run by Johnson with 10:21 remaining in the first half. Jaydon Fain added the point-after kick.
Walnut Grove had its best drive of the first half as they tried to answer the Eastside score. The drive reached the Eagle 24-yard line after a 20-yard run by Lee on fourth-and-2.
Three consecutive offensive penalties, however, killed the drive and would force another Brenden Hamrick punt.
Jacob Street, Skyler Jones, Avery Schnier, Maleek Wong and Justin Pressley contributed defensively for WGHS.
Region 8-AAAAA action continues next week as the Warriors host Loganville and Eastside host Greenbrier on the last Friday of the regular season.