One for the thumb: Wildcats win fifth straight championship [VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS]
Rabun County won its fifth straight region championship with a 56-28 victory over long-time rivals Union County, who came in undefeated and winners of 11 straight going back to last season. For the #2-ranked Wildcats, it was the same old song and dance, but one that never gets old in Tiger.
Gunner Stockton accounted for six touchdowns, including four straight rushing touchdowns – three in the third quarter – to pull away from Union. The #9 Panthers (9-1) briefly held a first quarter lead before Rabun went ahead 14-7. Union would tie once more, but late in the second quarter the Wildcats began to pull away, scoring 35 unanswered points before the Panthers again got on the board.
Rabun County (9-1) was turned away on the opening drive of the game with a turnover on downs. Union County capitalized with an immediate touchdown from Pierson Allison to Sawyer Drake from 49 yards out to strike first. Stockton then threw an interception by Union’s Alec Scott, but the Rabun defense forced a long field goal that missed.
Stockton and Brison Beck orchestrated a drive, capped by Austin Jones’ 6-yard touchdown catch on a toss to tie the game with under two minutes left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Panthers were forced to punt out of their own end zone to Jones, who took the return back inside the five-yard line. Beck then scored from two ticks out to take the lead about midway through the quarter. The lead didn’t hold long, as Union responded with a 14-yard strike from Allison to a wide open Kyle Morlock.
As the half wound down, Rabun County ratcheted up two more scores, a 37-yard pitch and catch from Stockton to Braxton Hicks. It was Hicks’ 10th TD on the year. Stockon just before the half found the end zone on a five-yard run to push the lead to 28-14.
As the temperature dipped, the Wildcats heated up with three touchdowns to open the third quarter. All three were rushing TDs by Stockton, scoring on runs of 6, 10, and 21 yards to pad the lead to 49-14. Union bridged that gap to 49-21, but would get no closer as the Wildcats got another Beck touchdown from a yard out early in the fourth quarter to put the game away and secure the region title. Union got a late touchdown for good measure on a pass from Allison to Jonah Daniel.
The Wildcats earned a #1-seed going into next week’s playoffs, while Union will get a #2 seed and a home playoff game. Union takes on #3-seed Bremen, who beat Rabun County to open the 2018 season. The Wildcats play #4-seed Spencer.