NOW HABERSHAM – The Raiders endured yet another nail-biter in a high-scoring loss to longtime rivals Stephens County, with AJ Curry’s Hail Mary pass as time expired was batted away.
Habersham (1-3) fell for the third consecutive week in dramatic fashion, this time a blowing 49-46 defeat at home against the Indians, who now own the all-time series at 29-11-1, including 12 straight dating back to 1996.
Raiders brothers AJ Curry and Donovan Curry hooked up on a 59-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game, a special moment as both Curry brothers came in from Stephens County. The extra point was missed, giving Habersham the early 6-0 lead.
Stephens County (3-1) bounced back minutes later on a short-yardage touchdown run by Hassan Brown, who lit up the defense with incredible runs throughout the game. The Indians went up 14-6 later in the first on a two-yard touchdown by Cole Beitzel, who scored three in the game.
The Indians appeared to be putting the game away with another Beitzel touchdown late in the second quarter that made it 21-6. However, Curry and the Jim Barnett helped get the Raiders back one minute later, when Curry took one in himself to make it 21-12. The 2-point conversion attempt appeared good on a pass to Barnett, but a pass interference called it off.
Both teams came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, with Habersham getting a touchdown pass from AJ to Donovan Curry, making it a 21-19 game. The Indians responded immediately with a Brandon Wheeler kickoff return for a touchdown. Back and forth the offenses traded points from there on out.
AJ Curry added another rushing score from five yards out to bridge the gap to 28-26. Again the Indians responded with Beitzel’s third rushing touchdown to go up 35-26. Still in the third, Habersham lit up the crowd on AJ Curry’s third rushing touchdown and fifth overall, making it 35-33 with 1:21 to go in the quarter.
Keeping with the game’s pace, Stephens struck with a Bell to Kamon Taylor 55-yard touchdown to open the fourth quarter. The Raiders again responded with another Curry touchdown, this one from 60 yards out, to pull within 42-39 after a failed extra point attempt. After both defenses forced stops, it was the Raiders who finally pulled ahead when Barnett pulled in a 35-yard pass from Curry and scampered into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown, making it 46-42 late in the 4th.
Staying true to form, it wasn’t over yet. With about four minutes to play, it was Jackson Bell for the Indians who ripped off a huge run to set up an 11-yard Hassan Brown touchdown, making it 49-46 Stephens County. The Raiders got near midfield before turning over on downs, but the Indians, playing conservatively, couldn’t run enough clock out on the next possession, which gave Habersham one last chance with 35 seconds to go. A few sideline passes to Trey Wetherton and a pair to Bryce Tanner gave Curry a decent shot at the end zone as time expired, but under heavy pressure his pass was batted down short of the goal line.