A furious Wildcats comeback effort in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough for top-ranked Rabun Co. to erase being outscored 21-0 in the third during a 38-24 loss at Thomasville on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state playoffs.
The loss was the first of the season for the Region 8-AA champion Wildcats (12-1) who were led Friday night as they have been all season by sophomore quarterback Gunner Stockton.
Trailing 35-10 entering the fourth quarter, Stockton and the offense went to work. The sophomore threw touchdowns passes of 10 yards (to Cory Keller) and 30 yards (to Braxton Hicks), while the defense held the home team Bulldogs to a field goal in the period.
Stockton finished the night 16-of-24 for 316 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the 2019 campaign with 3,462 yards and 43 touchdowns passing with a nearly 75 percent completion percentage.
Despite the good numbers, Stockton was on the run most of the night from a Thomasville defense that Rabun Co. head coach Jaybo Shaw said his team had a “hard time blocking.”
Stockton was sacked or dropped for a loss 10 times on the night. He also lost a fumble in the first quarter and threw an interception while on the run in the third quarter.
“We knew going in we were going to have our hands full,” Shaw said of the Bulldogs’ defensive front. The defense is a big part of the reaon the Bulldogs won Region 1-AA this season.
Rabun Co. broke the scoreless tie just 48 seconds into the game on their third play from scrimmage. Keller broke through that tough defensive line and burst 50 yards into the end zone to give the visiting Wildcats the 7-0 lead.
Thomasville answered later in the quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run, and then scored again midway through the second quarter to a take 14-7 lead.
Rabun Co. responded with a 63-yard, five-play drive that ended with an 18-yard field goal from Edwin Diaz to close the gap to 14-10.
Then the third quarter happened.
Thomasville scored 21 unanswered points in the period, including a blocked punt by Kevin Cochran on Stockton.
After scoring on a 54-yard screen pass on their first possession of the quarter, Cochran broke through to knock down Stockton’s punt on Rabun Co.’s first. The ball was scooped up by Thomasville’s Ricky Fulton, who scampered 16 yards into the end zone to put the score at 28-10.
The home team added a third score in the quarter on a 12-yard run to go up 35-10 heading into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, the offense scored on Keller’s catch and the defense held Thomasville to a 35-yard field goal to make the score 38-17 with 8:24 to go.
Stockton struck again to Hicks with 6:50 to go, but Thomasville held on from there to earn a spot in the semifinals.
They will host Dumblin next Friday, Dec. 6.
With the loss, Rabun Co.’s season comes to an end.