The Sandy Creek Fighting Patriots came out “fighting” on their opening play of the game when Cole Garvin hit Kyle Wilson for a 44-yard pass play down to the Ridgeland 19. Three plays later Eric Swinney lowered his shoulder and ran right over a Ridgeland defender for a 6-yard touchdown run and Sandy Creek led 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
“Y’all have watched us this year and that is what were going to do, were going to try and put pressure on the defense at all times and that was the game plan from the get go and our guys did a good job of it”, Sandy Creek Head Coach Chip Walker said.
Ridgeland’s best drive of the first half came late in the first quarter when they moved it 68 yards with the big play being a 33-yard pass play from Darrell Bridges to Vonn Bell but were unable to use it as the drive ended at the Sandy Creek 22 after a failed fourth down.
Sandy Creek went right back to work moving the ball but faced a fourth-down and two at the Ridgeland 32. Delvin Weems got the two yards for the first and on the next play raced 30 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown to cap a 9-play 78-yard drive and give Sandy Creek a 14-0 lead with 9:08 left in the second quarter going 9-plays and 78-yards to score.
Mitchell McMillin kicked a 35-yard field goal to increase Sandy Creek’s lead to 17-0 later in the second quarter.
Later Sandy Creeks stout defense forced Ridgeland to punt and Demarre Kitt showed why he is the athlete he is returning it 54-yards after stumbling several times before finally falling at the Ridgeland 15. Weems tacked on another touchdown run from 11-yards out to give the Patriots a 24-0 lead. They were not done as the defense forced a fumble and recovered it at the Ridgeland 40. On the next play Cole Garvin when long down the right side to Demarre Kitt for a 39-yard completion to the Ridgeland 1. Eric Swinney did the rest taking it in from a yard out and it was 31-0 Sandy Creek with :51 seconds left in the half. Swinney tallied 11 rushes for 65 yards and two touchdowns while Weems racked up 97 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Both are sophomores and will be back at Sandy Creek next season.
In the second half it was more of the same as Sandy Creek struck again when Garvin hit Kyle Wilson on a 37-yard touchdown pass to signify that Sandy Creek was in control and would not be denied, they led 38-0 with 5:52 left in the third quarter. Garvin finished with 240 yards passing on 13-18. Garvin, a junior, will be back at Sandy Creek next season.
Ridgeland added a field goal from 29-yards at the end of an 8-play 73-yard drive late in the third quarter but it was not enough for the mercy rule of a running clock to go into effect in the 4th quarter with Sandy Creek leading 38-3.
Sandy Creek backups would get their moment in the light and cashed it in when Trey Walker, son of head coach Chip Walker, capped an 8-play 80-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass in the left corner to Justin Sumpter for a 45-3 lead in the fourth.
“We were in a situation where he could throw one and Justin [Sumpter] made a great play in the end zone to help him out and I was estastic about that”, the elder Walker said with a big smile.
Ridgeland’s highly touted running back/cornerback Vonn Bell caught a 38-yard touchdown from Bridges on a halfback pass to give Ridgeland their only touchdown of the game at the end of a 10-play 76-yard drive with 2:52 left in the game. Darrell Bridges, a running back was 2-3 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown with both completions to Bell. Ridgeland quarterback Trevor Long was 0-4 passing on the evening. Ridgeland’s three long drives of 68, 73 and 76 yards accounted for 217 of their 268 yards of total offense in the game with 197 of those yards on the ground.
“If we could stop them and get the ball back and score it would take them out of their game plan and that is what we wanted to do”, Walker said.
Sandy Creek finished 15-0, won their third state title in four seasons and is not nationally ranked in polls despite having a team loaded with solid recruits across the board, producing several current NFL stars and top Division-I level players.
“For us to come back and win again it’s just unbelievable, it’s what we wanted to do”, Walker said. He added, “Our guys know that we have a standard that has been set and that is what we expect them to work to and they do a great job with it”.
Sandy Creek is more than worthy of a national ranking across several polls. The lack of a “big time/national respected” opponent on their schedule, this year and in previous years and playing in Georgia’s Class 4A (Two classes down from the highest classification 6A) hurts them nationally.
Sandy Creek defeated two 6A teams that advanced to the second round of the 6A playoffs in East Coweta and Newnan by a combined 69-14 score during the regular season. Both lost to Region 1-6A opponents in the playoffs, East Coweta to Camden County (a quarterfinalist) and Newnan to Colquitt County (a semifinalist).