Lyons, GA – October 17, 2022 | Matt Lynn | Photo Courtesy of Toombs County Boosters
Toombs County was on the road to Blackshear on Friday to face the 6th Ranked Powerhouse Pierce County Bears. Pierce was the 2020 Class AAA State Champions and a Class AAA final four team last year. They were ranked #2 in the state until they suffered their first loss last week to Appling County. The Dogs were a 37-point underdog based on the Maxwell Ratings but did not show any fear from the opening kickoff.
The Bears won the toss and kicked off to the Dogs and Mike Polke took the opening kickoff back 44 yards to set the tone. A determined Offensive Line and a stingy Red Bullet Defense slowed the usual fast pace that Pierce is used to. Toombs County struck the scoreboard first on a 23-yard Gavin Hall to Gavin Fletcher Touchdown pass. The Angel Morales PAT gave the Dogs a 7-0 lead and the 1st Quarter ended the same.
In the second quarter, Toombs struck again as Caden Marsh used play action to find a wide open LaGonza Heyward streaking downfield for an 80-yard TD pass. This pushed the Toombs County lead to 14-0. On the ensuing drive, the Pierce County Bear’s star DJ Bell finally got the Bears moving and tossed a 21-yard TD to Jaquez White to close the score to 14-7. On the next Bulldog drive, an interception and return set the Bears up for a first and goal from the Dog 2-yard line. Bell would score on the next play matching the Dogs at 14. The Bears used the momentum to push another 4-yard rushing TD just before halftime to give the Bears their first lead of the night. That would end the first half and The Dogs trotted to the locker room down 21-14.
The Red Bullet defense contained Bell all night and forced a Bear punt on the first possession of the second half. On Toombs County’s next play, a Bear defender would knock the ball loose and jump on it in the end zone for another TD. This put Pierce in front 28-14, but the Dogs didn’t quit and started roaring back. On the next drive, Marsh took a snap and faked an option pitch racing 40 yards near the Bear goal line. Three plays later, Senior Tank Morris pushed across the goal line with a 6-yard run to close the gap back to 28-21. After 3 Quarters, Toombs trailed by 7 and the stadium was rocking on both sides. The Toombs Faithful packed as many in as possible for this game and nobody was leaving early.
In the fourth quarter, as Pierce County drove the field grinding the clock, Brock Nobles and Hunter Barwick slammed the middle closed on Bell and the Bears. Pierce would have to kick a 37-yard field goal to push the lead back to two scores, 31-21. Toombs would get the ball back and the Dogs would destroy the Bear defensive front as Tank Morris capped off an impressive drive on a 48-yard touchdown run to get back to within three at 31-28. Pierce got the ball back with just under 4 minutes remaining. The Bears had no luck trying to get a first down and with about two and a half minutes remaining, Pierce tried to convert a 3rd and 2. Nobles and Wil Watts powered through the offensive line and pulled Bell down for a 2-yard loss. A late flag was thrown and the Dogs were called for a defensive holding giving the Bears that first down they needed.
The game would end 31-28.
Up next for Toombs County is Windsor Forest after a bye week.