COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — Blessed Trinity earned its third straight trip to the state finals Friday night with a monumental performance over previously undefeated Woodward Academy (13-1), the only team to beat the Titans this season. BT’s run game was unstoppable, netting the Titans over 340 yards on the ground, while the defense compiled another stingy performance to force four turnovers and hold Woodward to five drives with negative yardage.
“We played well in all three phases of the game, and I was really proud to see that,” head coach Tim McFarlin said. “We are beat up and banged up like everyone else at this point in the season, but we are excited for the opportunity to play next week.”
The Titans (13-1) relentlessly moved the ball behind standout performances from their offensive line and fullbacks Henry Carlton and Ryan Dupont.
“The offensive line had maybe their best performance of the year, all five of those guys,” McFarlin said. “We knew we had to run the ball to burn clock to keep [Woodward’s] quarterback on the field, and a big part of that was our fullbacks. Credit Ryan Dupont who also lined up and middle linebacker for us, he was exhausted. And Carlton had his best game of the season.”
Running backs Elijah Green and freshman Justice Haynes took advantage of the holes provided by their blockers, and made plenty of space of their own, to combine for 336 yards rushing.
Green ran for 190 yards with three touchdowns, his third putting the game away midway through the fourth quarter, while Haynes compiled 146 yards with a 53-yard touchdown on the final play of the game.
Quarterback Duncan Reavis was 3-5 passing for 89 yards.
Titans’ tight end/safety James Bryant contributed significantly on both sides of the ball. Bryant hauled in a 77-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and had two interceptions, including a pick-six returned 15 yards to put BT up 16-0 in the second quarter.
Junior linebacker Michael Mitchler had three tackles-for-loss, including two sacks, in the first half of BT’s dominant defensive performance. Woodward was held to 154 total yards and earned just one first down outside of penalty yardage in the opening 36 minutes of the game.
Blessed Trinity looked poised to put the game away in the second quarter, but two momentum-swinging plays allowed the War Eagles to keep the score close at the half.
The Titans led 16-0 behind a field goal from Aaron Werkheiser, a 44-yard rushing score from Green and Bryant’s pick-six and were set up just outside the red zone by a 27-yard rush from Green.
However, a bobbled snap fell out of the hands of quarterback Duncan Reavis, and after it careened around the feet and outstretched arms of several players, a Woodward defender scooped the ball up and returned it over 65 yards to put the War Eagles on the scoreboard.
BT responded immediately with Reavis hitting tight end James Bryant, who was alone in the middle of the field, for a 77-yard touchdown to put BT up 23-7.
After being stymied for the entire first half, Woodward finally broke through on the first play of their ensuing drive with quarterback Mike Wright breaking through and finding a seam up the middle of BT’s defense on a run and using his speed to scamper for an 83-yard score, the third touchdown in a minute of game time.
BT took a knee to end the half leading 23-14.
Midway through the third quarter, BT took advantage of a fumble from Woodward’s Wright deep in BT territory, setting up a 14-yard touchdown rush from Green on the ensuing play to push the Titans’ lead to 30-14.
Werkheiser made his second field goal of the game less than two minutes later, and Green and Haynes had rushing scores in the final quarter to seal the win.
The Titans will take on Oconee County (13-1) in the Class 4A state finals Saturday, Dec. 14 at Georgia State Stadium with kickoff set for 4:30 p.m.
The Titans will be seeking their third straight title while Oconee is making its second appearance in the finals after winning the 1999 Class 3A state championship.
Though the Titans have the advantage of experience in state finals, McFarlin said it could be a non-factor.
“At the end of the day, you have to play it like it’s no different from any other game,” he said. “You don’t want to get lost in the hype, just do what you do and hope it’s enough to win.”