After matching a team record for wins in a season, the Eagles (9-2) will travel to Westlake for the second round.
After seeing a 25-point lead evaporate into just a six-point advantage in the third quarter, Etowah took hold of the game in the fourth quarter and didn’t let up.
Etowah, which punted twice and turned the ball over on downs once to open the second half, forced South Forsyth (6-5) to punt from its own 8 with just under 8 minutes left in the game. The Eagles received the ball on the War Eagles’ 39 and moved up to their own 33 on a run by Tyray Devezin.
The sophomore running back was handed the ball on the second straight play and carried it the rest of the way for his third touchdown of the night, and a 34-22 lead with 7:26 to play.
Later, faced with third-and-10 from his own 26, South Forsyth quarterback Matthew White dropped back to pass. Etowah lineman Scott Morgan picked off White’s pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
The point-after by Noah Weber gave Etowah a 41-22 lead, and the Eagles weren’t done yet.
On the first play of the next possession, White once more looked to pass, and this time, Stuart Head came up with the interception. One play later, Head was in the end zone after caching a 26-yard pass from Robbie Knox.
“It felt like we gave up two or three (touchdowns) in less than a minute, so it was important for us to get them back,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “We needed it. When it got to 28-22, it was important for us to score. Our defense really stepped up. We got a punt and a pick, but to me, it was the punt that really got the momentum back for us.”
“I felt that it was really important to move the ball and score early,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “I felt like our kids made plays when we needed to make plays.”
With the win, Etowah (8-2, 6-2 Region 5AAAAAA) clinched the region’s No. 2 seed and the chance to stay at home for the first round of the state playoffs next week. The Eagles will host South Forsyth.
Despite holding the home-field advantage for at least one game, Svehla sees some mistakes Etowah will need to iron out before it can take care of its playoff opponent.
“We still are our own worst enemy,” Svehla said. “Just missed execution — just little things here and there where we step with the wrong foot or don’t secure a gap. Those are the things that differentiate you when you play in the playoffs against really good football teams. I felt our kids played well (Friday), but there’s no question we’ll have to play better next week.”
Etowah running back Tyray Devezin set the tone for the game on an opening drive, which saw him carry the ball five times for 76 yards. The drive was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Robbie Knox to Patrick Oliver on fourth-and-goal.
Devezin and Stanlee Logue keyed the Eagles’ powerful rushing attack as they powered their way through and raced around the Walton defense. Devezin finished with 130 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while Logue had 125 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
“I thought we did a really good job on the line of scrimmage,” Svehla said. “I thought our guys up front did a good job opening up holes and we not only ran well, but ran after contact. I thought they did an excellent job staying on their feet, keeping their balance and getting yards for us, and helping us move the chains.”
WOODSTOCK — The Etowah defense came up big and forced Roswell to attempt field goals instead of getting touchdowns, and the Eagles posted a 28-18 victory to move into second place in Region 5AAAAAA.
Etowah sophomore Tyray Devezin made a touchdown-saving tackle on Roswell’s first possession and scored on a 68-yard run in the second quarter.
He wasn’t the only Eagle to make big plays on both sides of the ball. Senior Scott Morgan took Etowah’s first trip into the end zone with a 1-run carry early in the second quarter. Then, on the Hornets’ first possession of the second half, he recovered a fumble when Roswell quarterback James Whitaker lost the ball while pulling up to pass.
The Eagles went on to score a touchdown on the ensuing drive for a 21-3 lead.
Having locked up a state playoff berth for the eighth time in nine years, Etowah (7-2, 5-2) will face Walton next week. On the line will be home-field advantage for the first-round of the playoffs.
“Yes, we would love to play at home, but you want to have momentum going into the playoffs,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “You want to play well the week before. Walton is a team we have struggled with the last couple years. They will come ready to play, but I think our kids will be exited. We aren’t playing for anything except wanting to play well.”
Each team had three possession in the first quarter, but none produced points. It wasn’t until Morgan scored on his 1-yard run that Etowah took a 7-0 lead.
The score was made possible by a 31-yard run by quarterback Robbie Knox, which, at the time, was the longest play from scrimmage for the Eagles.
Etowah running back Tyray Devezin ran for touchdown runs of 60 and 71 yards, and quarterback Robbie Knox connected with Casey Snow for a 63-yard touchdown pass in a come-from-behind victory.
“We got away from what we’re good at in the first half, and that is mostly my fault,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “We have big, strong kids up front and we pride ourselves on being a physical football team. I got away from pounding the ball for two quarters, but we tweaked some things at halftime and came out ready to run the ball.”
Run the ball they did.
Trailing 7-3 at halftime, Etowah ran for 223 yards in the second half. Devezin, who finished the night with 179 yards on 17 carries in place of his injured brother, Raishod, took the second play of the third quarter 60 yards up the gut to give Etowah a 10-7 lead it didn’t relinquish.
Knox’s touchdown pass to Snow came on a flea-flicker early in the fourth quarter, pushing the margin to 17-7. Devezin scored his second touchdown minutes later, and Trey Moore scored Etowah’s third touchdown of the final period from 41 yards out with less than a minute to play.
The win moved Etowah to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in region play, keeping it in control of its playoff destiny. The Eagles will host region leader Roswell on senior night next Friday.