Warner Robins – The long ride from Bainbridge seemed worth it right away.
On the first play from scrimmage, highly touted running back Dameon Pierce went up the middle and was hardly touched en route to a 55-yard touchdown.
It was a Warner Robins party from then on.
The Demons countered with a 13-play, 95-yard scoring drive. And then a 56-yard touchdown drive. And then one of 42 yards.
Warner Robins turned what was expected to be a major showdown for the Region 1-AAAAA championship into something of a snoozer with a 35-6 win over Bainbridge at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
The impressive first half was more than enough for the Demons, who finished the regular season 10-0(4-0 in region) after going 3-8 last year in the first season for head coach Mike Chastain.
“Our defense played lights out,” said Chastain, whose team led 21-6 after a quarter and 35-6 at halftime. “We talked about doing our job all the time (on defense). Doing their job, not trying to make every play by themselves, just doing their job. They did a great job of that.”
Bainbridge (7-3, 3-1) head coach Jeff Littleton certainly didn’t expect what he saw, which was his team lose the battle up front.
“What happened is they made plays on both sides of the ball that first half and we didn’t’,” he said. “Bottom line, they didn’t miss any footballs, they caught the football, they blocked. What we didn’t do, we didn’t block, we didn’t tackle. They beat us up front, they beat us on the line of scrimmage.”
The bright spot for Littleton was a better second half in which the Bearcats kept the Demons from scoring and putting a running clock into effect, which would have been a fairly stunning development for a battle of teams ranked right next to each other in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.
Warner Robins was to swarm on defense, and did, save for that first play. Pierce, a Florida commitment, ended up with 121 yards on 26 carries, but 66 yards after that first one. The Bearcats managed 134 yards on the ground and 123 in the air.
“I don’t know what happened to them on that first play other than they didn’t squeeze it and we ran what we did,” Littleton said. “Other than that, they packed everybody in the box like we knew they would. We felt like we could still run the football (with) some play-action.”
That started early, with the long scoring drive to counter Pierce’s run, the Demons starting on the 5 and not facing a third down the entire possession. They had four straight first-down plays on the next scoring drive, and used a short field after a short punt to cover 42 yards in four plays for a 21-6 lead with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
The next drive took 10 plays to go 67 yards, and the Demons closed out the scoring after starting on their 9 following a defensive stand on Bainbridge’s best possession of the game.
Warner Robins got a 22-yard gain on a pass from Dylan Fromm to Tyler Fromm on third and 16, and Dylan From hit Marcayll Jones for a 35-yard score at the 2:48 mark of the second quarter.
Dylan Fromm was a sizzling 27 of 33 for 323 yards, connecting with eight receivers and passing to Juwight Hutchinson, Tyler Fromm and Jones for touchdowns, while Jarius Burnette added touchdown runs of 1 and 10 yards.
“It was a team effort,” Chastain said. “I can’t say enough about it being such a big effort. Defense played great, played phenomenal all night.”