Football can be a complicated game, but Villa Rica applied a simple approach of running the ball with authority as it rallied from a 14-6 halftime deficit to defeat Lithia Springs, 27-20.
Villa Rica’s massive offensive line manhandled the Lions’ defensive front and opened enormous holes for the backs to eat up chunks of yardage. The Wildcats amassed 296 yards on the ground behind the powerful legs of running backs Marquis McPhaul and Jaylon Cox. McPhaul had 23 rushes for 156 yards with two touchdowns. Cox recorded 88 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown.
“They have some big boys up front and they used them really well. We threw everything we had at them,” said Lions’ head coach Craig Chatman. “A lot of their yards came after halftime. They’re a good football team and have great individual players.”
Villa Rica’s initial score came in the first quarter when quarterback Noah Smith connected on a 15-yard touchdown strike to wideout Kris Ballinger. The Wildcats missed the extra point and led, 6-0.
Lithia Springs would take the lead in the second quarter on a 19-yard scoring completion from Jadon Walker to Dexter Hightower to go up, 7-6. Later in the quarter, Walker tossed another touchdown pass. This time, Martin Williams was on the receiving end and the Lions went to the locker room on top, 14-6.
Villa Rica wasted no time in evening the score after receiving the ball on its opening possession of the third quarter. Ballinger reached the end zone on a 60-yard play and a successful two-point conversion knotted things up at 14 apiece.
The rest of the quarter featured turnovers and stalled drives from both squads as the score remained locked heading to the final frame.
Villa Rica began the fourth quarter with excellent field position and Cox’s three-yard plunge across the goal line following a series of runs put the visitors up by a touchdown. However, a second missed extra point made the score, 20-14.
Lithia Springs reached the end zone on the next possession. The Lions would also fail on an extra point, leaving the game all square at 20-20.
Following the tying score, Villa Rica had a deep kickoff return and personal foul call, which tacked on 15 additional yards. The Wildcats went back to their bread and butter of running strong downfield. McPhaul’s 25-yard touchdown dash up the middle with 5:36 on the clock proved to be the bow on this victory gift for the school.
“We had a chance to take the lead, but ended up tying it. Then we had an unfortunate situation happen on the kickoff, and then there was a penalty. This one hurts, and the guys in this locker room are hurt,” said Chatman.