Most teams have already played a home opener, but Rabun County waited until the fourth week to play its first game at Frank Synder Memorial Stadium. It was worth the wait for Wildcat Nation, as Lee Shaw’s team shrugged off a sloppy start to win 41-14 over Stephens County. Senior Austin Jones provided the spark with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter to put Rabun ahead for good.
The Wildcats (2-1) were coming off a bye week, and took a bit to get going. Two early turnovers in the first quarter — an interception in the end zone by Stephens County’s DJ Jones off Gunner Stockton and a rare fumble by Austin Jones on a punt return — gave the Indians (2-2) early momentum.
Stephens County scored first with a five-yard touchdown by Hudson Spurlock. Early in the second quarter, the Rabun offense started to move the chains, thanks in large part to a huge Stockton-to-Austin Jones connection. The drive stalled, however and resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Tito Diaz.
The Wildcats finally found pay dirt with a Stockton touchdown pass to Sam Adams midway through the second to give Rabun a 10-7 lead. After getting the ball back with under a minute left in the half, Stockton and Braxton Hicks got Diaz into field goal position, where he netted a 40-yarder as the horn sounded, which put Rabun up 13-7.
Right out of the break, Kenny Colwell hooked up twice with his favorite target of the night, Gamarion Carter, to get deep inside Wildcat territory. Colwell polished off the drive with a bootleg 16-yard touchdown to go up 14-13.
From there, Rabun took over. Stephens County got the ball back, but were forced to punt themselves. Austin Jones took the return 60+ yards to the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning score. The ensuing two-point try kept the lead at a narrow 19-14 for the Wildcats.
On the next drive, Stockton used his arm and legs, as well as Brison Beck’s legs, to get back in the red zone. Beck notched a 6-yard touchdown for the 25-14 advantage. In the fourth, Rabun County recorded a safety to push the lead to 27-14, and put the game away two plays later on a Beck 38-yard touchdown run that gave the cats a 38-14 lead.
Brody Jarrard capped the scoring with a short-yardage TD run, and Rabun took the 41-14 win.
Rabun County opens region play next week at Putnam County, while Stephens takes on long-time rivals Habersham Central at The Reservation in Toccoa.
Feature Photo by Bobby Escoe