POWDER SPRINGS, GA — While the first game of the Football Hotbed National High school showcase was a one-sided affair, the sophomore showcase turned out to be a nail-biter.
In the end, Team White’s sophomores ended up victorious, stifling Team Granite’s late fourth quarter drive to preserve a 13-11 win at Walter H. Cantrell Stadium at McEachern High School.
Trailing by two with 1:17 remaining, Team Granite got the ball back at its own 17 with a chance to win it.
Granite QB Zack Lewis (Tampa, FL) opened the drive with a nifty 18-yard completion to Chase Lloyd for a first down.
However, on the next two plays Granite got nowhere after Lewis was hurried on pressure from Danny Lockhart and Kiwannous Washington.
On 3rd and 10, Lewis delivered a throw that just missed an open Tyler Ford.
On 4th and 10 Lewis took a snap from shotgun and delivered a tight spiral to Ford on a comeback route that appeared to be good enough to move the chains for a first down, however, the referee spotted the ball a yard short, effectively ending Granite’s hopes of winning.
The final score was an indicator of how well both defenses performed.
Team White was carried by standout performances from a pair of Atlanta defensive linemen Kiwannous Washington and Carlos Allen.
Washington was virtually unstoppable, finishing the game with four sacks and four pass deflections.
His dominant performance earned him MVP honors for the White team.
“We played as a team today, coaches came out and coached us up and we came out on the field and executed,” Washington said.
He and Allen (three sacks) helped the White team terrorize the Granite offensive line with nine sacks in the game.
“The coaches coached us to play to the best of our ability and to get to the quarterback,” Allen said.
For Team Granite’s side MVP honors went to their own quarterback nightmare from South Florida.
Defensive lineman Henry Bryant III (Delray Beach, FL) didn’t enjoy the 40 degree temps during the game, but he played like he was right at home.
“I’m from South Florida, Palm Beach County so you know, dealing with this cold weather, I had to fight through it to help my team out.”
Bryant finished with seven tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and three hurries including a devastating hit that knocked one of the Team White QB’s out of the game.
The first points of the game came on a special teams miscue.
A Team White botched snap on a punt attempt deep in its own territory trickled out of the back of the endzone to put Granite ahead 2-0 early in the first quarter.
As the first quarter expired, Lewis capped a 61-yard drive with a touchdown. A few plays after converting on 3rd and 19 with a 30-yard pass to Lloyd, Lewis corralled a bad snap and dashed up the middle on a five-yard touchdown to put Granite ahead 9-0.
The White team got back in the game thanks to a dynamic duo all the way from Hawaii.
QB Sol-Jay Maiava (Oahu, HI) tossed a 13-yard pass on a fade route to Poki’i Adkins-Kupuka’a (Ewa Beach, HI) for a touchdown. The Jack Breedlove extra point narrowed the score to 9-7 with 4:10 left in the second quarter.
Trailing 11-7 after another safety, Maiava connected with Adkins-Kupuka’a again with eight minutes in the third quarter.
On third and goal from the two, Maiava rolled out to the right and found Adkins-Kupuka’a near the pylon where he made an acrobatic catch, dragging two feet inbounds and controlling the ball to the ground before the referee signaled a touchdown.
The go-ahead score proved to be the game-winner for Team White.