Goshen hosts Clarke County in second round of playoffs

Published 10:11 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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The Goshen Eagles (9-2) will host the Clarke County Bulldogs (6-5) in the second round of the Class 2A State Playoffs this Friday, Nov. 17.

The Eagles are coming off a 61-40 win over GW Long in the first round last Thursday, Goshen’s first playoff appearance – and victory – since 2019.

“I think it was an up and down game for us,” GHS Coach Don Moore said. “We started out okay and then I think we got a little complacent when we got up 26-7. We gave up a touchdown and then they hit us with those onside kicks that we hadn’t seen on film all year. We had to get to halftime and make the adjustments we needed to stop it.

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“I think we didn’t play well in the first half at all. I think we let some of the pressure get to us. This was the first playoff game for our guys, but we settled down at halftime and we outscored them 35-7 in the second half. I think we played extremely well in the second half.”

The Goshen running game has been nearly unstoppable over the last three games, tallying 585 yards, 543 yards and 499 yards in that stretch. The three-headed rushing attack of Jamauri McClure, quarterback Jayden McNabb and Szemerick Andrews has amassed a combined 3,432 yards and 48 touchdowns this season.

While McClure – who just decommitted from South Alabama last week – gets plenty of attention from opposing defenses, as he has amassed 1,639 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, McNabb has also surpassed 1,000 yards on the ground. Goshen’s quarterback has 1,062 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing along with 497 yards and nine touchdowns passing, while Andrews also has 731 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing.

“They compliment each other really well,” Moore said of his rushing attack. “It’s great to have guys like that that want the football and want to run it the way we want to run it. We’re a very down hill team and they have taken to that and take pride in wanting to run the ball like that and our team also takes pride in being physical upfront.

“Those other guys are just as physical as Jamauri and that’s great for us to have. They are very unselfish players, they don’t care who gets the ball as long as we’re moving the ball and scoring and winning. That’s’ a great thing to have.”

Meanwhile, Clarke County is coming off a 20-9 win over Vincent in the opening round. The Bulldogs hold wins over Washington County, Chickasaw, JU Blacksher, St. Lukes and Francis Marion in the regular season. Their only losses in the regular season came at the hands of 9-1 Sweet Water, 3A 10-1 Straughn, 1A 9-2 Millry and 3A 9-1 Thomasville. All of Clarke County’s defeats come at the hands of playoff teams, all of which have advanced to the second round, as well.

“They’re big and physical and love to run the football; a lot like us on both sides of the football honestly,” Moore said of Clarke County. “We look a lot alike as far as our schemes and all. It will be a very physical football game and it will be won up front on both sides of the ball.”

Clarke County is led by running back AJ Ezell, who has 1,558 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground, while quarterback Tamyus Pugh has thrown for 788 yards and five touchdowns along with 436 yards and six touchdowns rushing. The Bulldogs average 323 yards rushing per game, with 250 yards on the ground. Clarke County is also averaging 26.6 points per game and is giving up 19.6 points per game.

The Eagle defense is led by linebacker Landon Chandler, who has amassed 122 tackles, 21 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and a fumble recovery this season. Andrews has also been a standout on defense with 62 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss and four sacks.

The Clarke County defense is led by Hayden Dotson with 111 tackles, 13 tackles-for-loss and on sack, while Ethan Henderson has earned 87 tackles, 24 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks.

This is the first time that the two schools have ever met, in the regular season or playoffs. Moore said his team is preparing for a physical game.

“Our guys will have to keep doing what they’ve been doing to win,” Moore emphasized. “We don’t have to do anything different than what we’ve been doing. We have to be physical up front and win the line of scrimmage.”

Goshen will host Clarke County in the second round matchup on Friday at 7 p.m. at Eagle Stadium.