In the state playoffs, big time players make big time plays.
That held true tonight as #14 Gunner Stockton and #4 Braxton Hicks lead Rabun County to the win over Toombs.
The Wildcats started the game with the ball, and the first play was a 53-yard pass from Stockton to Hicks. This play really helped set the tone for the game and gave Rabun the start they were looking for. A few plays later, Stockton hit #5 Hogan Woodard for the 13-yard touchdown and give his team a 7-0 lead.
It took them some time, but Toombs responded. After multiple 3rd down conversions, the Bulldogs tied the game on a 27-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes remaining in the first.
Rabun’s offense couldn’t move the ball far when they got it back. After getting one first down, they failed to get another and had to punt. Toombs returned the punt from midfield to the endzone, giving them a 14-7 lead with less than a minute in the quarter.
The Wildcats started the second quarter like it was a new game. A game that they completely dominated. Stockton quickly found Hicks, #15 Sam Adams, and Hicks again, all for first downs. Stockton then kept the ball for a 20-yard gain on the ground. He followed that run up with another, this time for a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The Rabun County defense got back on track on the next drive. They forced the Bulldogs into a 3rd down situation, where Hicks proved he could be just as effective on defense. He intercepted the pass, giving his team great field position to start their drive.
Stockton picked up where he left off the previous drive, rushing for 2 quick first downs. He continued to show his mobility by rolling out left, avoiding the sack, moving back to the right, and eventually found Adams for a touchdown, giving them the lead back with 2 minutes to go.
The defense of the Wildcats stepped up again, forcing a quick 3 and out. After a fair catch, the Rabun offense had 1:02 left in the half to score from their own 38. Stockton went right back to Hicks for back-to-back first downs. Stockton then found #34 Tate Ramey for a 25-yard gain, setting up a 29-yard field goal from #82 Edwin Diaz. Time expired as the kick went through the uprights, and the Wildcats took a 24-14 lead into the half.
After Toombs got a quick first down to open the half, the Wildcat defense forced a punt. #42 Cory Keller opened the drive with a quick first down run. Stockton then found Adams and Hicks for 2 more firsts. Keller finished the drive off with a 5-yard touchdown to extend his team’s lead to 31-14 halfway through the 3rd.
Rabun’s defense stepped up again and forced another 3 and out. After a first down run by Keller, and a first down reception from Hicks, the Wildcats had to punt. This was their first punt since the 1st quarter.
The Bulldogs were able to get a first down on their next drive after an unnecessary roughness call. #3 AJ Wheeler erased the momentum by intercepting the ball and taking it to the house. However, the touchdown was erased by a flag. Still, Wheeler set his team up with great field position, as they started from the opposite 35-yard line.
After a quick first down run by Stockton, the offense was stopped short and settled for a field goal. Diaz drilled it from 26 yards out, giving his team the 34-14 lead early in the 4th.
The Wildcats attempted to get the ball back with an onside kick, but it was recovered by Toombs. They started their drive from the Rabun 38-yard line. After a first down, and a few pass interference calls, the Wildcats got the stop on 4th down, giving them the ball back.
Stockton sealed any chance of a comeback with a 33-yard run on first down to get the ball away from the goal line. The offense wasted time, but couldn’t get the first down and had to punt.
The Bulldogs got a first down quickly, but Hicks essentially ended the game with a late interception, his second of the game.
Rabun ran out the clock and won the game 34-14.
They will travel to play at Thomasville next Friday in the quarterfinals.