They aren’t called special teams for nothing.
On Friday night at the Grove, Walnut Grove took advantage of three big plays in the kicking game to pull out a 13-6 win over cross-county rival Social Circle.
With the victory, the Warriors earned their first win of the season, snapped a six-game losing skid and avoided a loss to a Class-A team.
But more importantly, it gives them some much needed momentum heading into Region 8-AAAAA play in two weeks.
Social Circle lost for the first time in three games and for the second straight year to the Warriors. It was much closer than last year’s 42-16 beat down. But it was no less disappointing given the opportunity the Redskins had to pull off the upset.
Trailing 6-0 through three-and-a half quarters, the Redskins finally got on the board midway through the fourth, set up by an interception by K.J. Reid, who returned it to the Warriors 39.
From there, Social went the distance in six plays, culminated by a 9-yard pass from Logan Cross to Dashon Hyman with 7:39 left in the game. The PAT was no good.
It had three more shots on offense, but a shanked punt and two interceptions dashed its hopes.
On its next possession, Social Circle was stopped in three plays and forced to punt. The ball went off the side of Hunter Wise foot and into the arms of Walnut Grove’s Cassius Hann, who returned the ball to the one.
From there Skyler Jones crashed over what turned out to be the winning points.
Junior Rhett Lamberth then became the defensive hero for the Warriors, intercepting Cross on the Redskins next two possessions to seal the win.
But the rest of the Walnut Grove defense pitched in as well, holding the Redskins high-powered Air Raid offense to less than 200 total yards.
Cross passed for just 22 in the first half and finished with 140.
Offensively, Walnut Grove stuck mostly to the ground, finishing with 122 yards on 44 carries. The duo of Skyler Jones Nolan Yancey combined for 113 yards.
Quarterback Ashton Adams was efficient through the air, completing 7-of-10 passes for 98 yards.
Walnut Grove had its chances in the first half, moving inside the Redskins 5-yard-line twice but settling for a pair of field goals.
On their second possession, the Warriors started at their own 10 and moved to the Redskins three, sparked by a 40-yard catch and run by junior receiver Zach Ford.
But Jones was stopped short of the goal line and three consecutive carries and Brenden Hamrick kicked and 20-yard field goal on the second play of the second quarter.
The second score was set up when sophomore Kendall Lee retrieved a tipped pass off the hands of Redskins receiver Reid at the Social Circle 24 and returned it to the 15.
Six plays later, the Warriors stalled at the seven and settled for Hamrick’s second kick of the half, this one from 23 yards.
Walnut Grove will be off next week while Social Circle travels to Eatonton to face Putnam County.