Warner Robins – The memories of playing Houston County with Jake Fromm at quarterback haven’t been good for many teams the past few years.
Peach County knows, having watched Fromm lead Houston County to a 49-31 win in 2016.
The Trojans, Class AAA’s No. 1 team, took advantage of the absence of Fromm and several other playmakers and topped the Bears 44-14 Friday night in non-region action at Freedom Field.
“I’m proud starting off 1-0,” Peach County head coach Chad Campbell said after a not-so-sharp performance. “I reckon you could be 0-1. ... We’ve gotta clean things up.”
Houston County, a Class AAAAAA team, fell to 0-2.
Peach County took the lead for good after four plays and basically put it away with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown by Georgia commit Kearis Jackson with 57 seconds left in the first half.
That gave the Trojans a 30-7 lead at the break.
“I challenged them at halftime to win the second half,” first-year Houston County head coach Ryan Crawford said. “Whether we did or not, I don’t know.”
But Houston County, trying to bounce back after losing 42-3 to Jones County in the Corky Kell Classic at Mercer, came out strong in the second half with a five-play, 80-yhard scoring drive.
Sophomore Wesley Steiner went 46 yards for the score en route to 234 yards for the night.
The Trojans put it away with 1:35 left in the third quarter when quarterback Antonio Gilbert went in from a yard out.
Houston County saved some points when Antwan Adams blocked a field goal try, keeping the margin at 23 early in the fourth. A fumble led to a short Peach County scoring drive in the final three minutes.
“We just got a lot of guys that never played before, got a lot of different people doing different things,” Crawford said. “But we’re a better team than we were four quarters ago.”
Last year’s game was played six days after a car accident in Byron, about 10 minutes from Peach County High, killed senior Raekwon Smith and paralyzed senior Randolph Williams, who remains in a wheelchair but continues to make progress.
Teammates E’Juan McKeller and Eric Robinson, also seniors last year, suffered less serious injuries in the accident.
The Trojans took a two-touchdown lead in that game before Houston County adjusted and took advantage of some defensive errors. Fromm finished 27 of 38 for 444 yards and four touchdowns.
Peach County faced a Houston County team Friday that also lost two starters – running back Jaeven West and wideout Tyler Fromm – to a transfer to Warner Robins, as well as plenty of starters on both sides to graduation.
And the Bears paid for it, although the game might have been closer than some expected after last week’s loss to Jones County.
A win over a bigger school on the road is nice, but the Trojans weren’t consistent on either side of the ball and had double-digit penalties.
“God almighty,” Campbell said. “It was kinda bad. Not a lot of good. We acted like we were in a fog. We gave up too, too, too many yards.
“They’ve got to take practice a little more seriously. Our mind’s not where it needs to be.”