Photo: Coosa Christian’s John David Justus runs for a touchdown during the Conquerors 28-0 win over Spring Garden on Nov. 10. (Courtesy of Average Joe’s Sports Talk)
By Shannon Fagan/WEIS Radio Sports Director
Out of the seven Class 1A teams Coosa Christian faced on it schedule this football season, only the Spring Garden Panthers can say that they held their own against the Conquerors.
During the teams’ regular season meeting on Sept. 1, the Panthers held Coosa to its lowest point total of the season – minus a shutout loss in the Conquerors’ season opener at Class 3A No. 8 Geraldine. However, six turnovers proved costly for the Panthers in a 21-6 setback.
The teams met for the fourth time in two seasons on Nov. 10 at Spring Garden. The Panthers cut down on their turnovers, but the Coosa defense turned in another dominating performance in a 28-0 victory.
It was the Conquerors’ fourth straight win and seventh overall shutout this season, counting four forfeits following the use of ineligible players. Coosa Christian (6-5) will host Lynn in the second round on Friday, Nov. 17. Coosa defeated Lynn, 46-29 in the 2022 state quarterfinals.
“I’m pleased with the effort, but I’m not real pleased with how we played,” Coosa Christian coach Mark O’Bryant said. “We just left way too much on the field. You can’t get inside the 10 and the 5 [yard line] twice and walk away with zero [points]. You’ve got to be able to score touchdowns. We couldn’t do that. [Give] credit to [Spring Garden]. They played hard, but we just weren’t there. Penalties hurt us really bad.”
The Conquerors held the Spring Garden offense to 84 yards, including 17 rushing. The Coosa defense caused three turnovers, including a fumble recovery and an interception.
The Coosa offense set the tone early in the game.
On their opening drive, the Conquerors marched 64 yards in 17 plays and ate up almost 5 ½ minutes of the first-quarter clock. The end result was Kanon Wilson’s 5-yard touchdown run to give Coosa a 7-0 lead.
The Spring Garden defense helped keep the Panthers (8-3) within striking distance in the first half, but the offense sputtered the entire game. Of Spring Garden’s five first-half possessions, four resulted in punts and another an interception. By halftime, Coosa had built a 21-0 edge.
The Conquerors’ other two scores in the first half came on a pair of second-quarter touchdown runs from quarterback John David Justus, one from a yard out and the other from three yards away.
Spring Garden twice managed to turn Coosa’s offense away deep inside Panther territory, but Josh Hester’s 25-yard touchdown run with 5:14 remaining in the fourth quarter sealed the game.
Justus led the Conquerors with 136 rushing yards and two scores on 15 carries. He also completed 12-of-23 pass attempts for 95 yards.
Kanon Wilson gained 102 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while Josh Hester ran nine times for 61 yards and a score.
Eli Motes had six receptions for 37 yards, while Clete O’Bryant had three catches for 17 yards. Jadan Burns went 4 for 4 on extra points.
O’Bryant led the way defensively with nine tackles, followed by Drake Dupree with seven and Motes and Cade Mickler with six each. Mickler and Dylan Mackey each had a sack, while Dylan Edwards had an interception.
Barber threw for 69 yards on six pass completions to lead the Panther offense. John Welsh had a pair of catches for 41 yards. He also led the Panther ground game with 28 yards on five carries.
“We set the tone, but the problem was we didn’t back that up consistently,” Mark O’Bryant said. “Too many penalties.”