Rabbs battle hard in, 45-30, loss to Gilmer
Atlanta played arguably the best game of the year last Friday night in a, 45-30, loss to Gilmer.
The Rabbits left it all on the field last week and despite the loss can still make the playoffs if they win, or lose, Friday night against Spring Hill.
Mathematics comes into play if they lose to the Panthers, but you can toss math out the window if the Rabbs take care of business and finish the regular season schedule with a W.
Atlanta received the ball to open the contest, and gained good field position after a nice return by Nick Washington.
Working from the 42, Jawan King tallied 15 yards on three carries before quarterback Andy Samples picked up four yards on a run.
After a sack, Samples threw an interception and the Buckeyes took over at its own 45.
Gilmer took the ball down to the Rabbit 13 but a stout stand by the defense and great pass coverage by Desmond Webster brought on the field goal team.
Gilmer’s kicker nailed the short attempt and the Buckeyes were ahead, 3-0, with 6:05 left in the opening frame.
Atlanta answered on the next drive as King opened the new drive with a 31-yard run followed by runs from Webster and Samples.
King picked up a short gain on first down followed by a penalty against the Rabbs.
The next play was exemplary as Samples hit King over the middle for a 41-yard touchdown.
The PAT was no good, but Atlanta was up, 6-3, with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
Gilmer can rip off huge chunks of yardage at one time and did so on the next drive as they racked up 57 yards in six plays.
The latter was a 3-yard plunge into the endzone for their first touchdown of the contest.
The PAT was good, and Gilmer was on top, 10-6, with 1:49 left on the clock.
Atlanta’s next drive started out with a promising look as Samples connected with Webster for 21 yards, but just a few plays later the Rabbs were in punt formation to open the next quarter.
Samples’ punt was a good one as he pinned Gilmer at the 3-yard line to open the second stanza.
Gilmer broke out with an 18-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage, but a holding call and a few incomplete passes put the Buckeyes in punt formation with 10:25 left in the second quarter.
Both teams traded punts until Atlanta broke through for another TD.
The drive began at the 46 and the Rabbs closed in on midfield after a 3-yard run by King.
Samples hit Joshua Edwards for 26 yards to get into Gilmer territory, and later found Carson Rich for 18 yards on fourth down.
Two run plays by Samples ended the drive as he dashed in from two yards out on the latter run.
The PAT was no good but the Rabbs reclaimed the lead at, 12-10, with 3:43 left in the first half.
Gilmer looked to go ahead before halftime and did so after a 10-play drive ended with a 14-yard QB keeper.
The PAT was good, and the Bucs were back ahead, 17-12, with 1:21 left in the half.
Nice runs by King and Samples gave Atlanta the chance for a possible TD as the Rabbs moved the ball from the 28 to Gilmer’s 17 in five plays.
Samples’ pass attempt was played well and barely knocked away as time ran out.
The second half opened in the worst possible way for Atlanta as the kickoff was returned 90 yards for a touchdown.
The score and successful PAT put Gilmer up, 24-12, with 11:46 left in the third frame.
Atlanta answered on the next drive twice.
King picked up nice yardage on a couple of runs to open the drive and two plays later Samples hit King for a 56-yard TD.
The score was negated, however, after a called block in the back against Atlanta.
Since the infraction was a spot foul the pass was for 22 yards to the Gilmer 34.
The rest of the drive was pure “need to score” by the Rabbs as Samples connected with both Kade Wood and Edwards on fourth down to keep the drive alive.
The 15-play drive ended with Samples scampering in from 1-yard out for a TD.
The 2-point play failed but Atlanta cut into Gilmer’s lead with a score of, 24-18, with 6:59 left in the third quarter.
Atlanta received a gift in the form of a fumble on Gilmer’s next drive but ended up turning the ball over after five plays.
The Rabbit defense stood tall on the next drive as they forced Gilmer into a three-and-out.
After the Buckeye punt Atlanta was backed up 10 yards on a holding call.
That didn’t faze King as he took the next handoff 77 yards to paydirt.
The 2-point play was no good, but the score was tied at 24-all with 1:38 left in the quarter.
Gilmer would not be outdone as they scored after an 8-play drive with six seconds left in the third quarter.
The PAT put the Bucs ahead, 31-24.
Gilmer ended the last quarter with a score and Atlanta opened the final quarter with one of their own.
Only one play was needed as Samples hit receiver Austin Brown for a 67-yard score. The 2-point play was no good, but Atlanta was just one back with a score of, 31-30, with 11:49 left on the clock.
Gilmer looked to answer as they drove the ball into Rabbit territory, but big stops and QB pressure by Demontrae Collins and Gerrod Oliver ended the drive as a turnover on downs with 8:47 left in the game.
The next drive for Atlanta took shape with Webster gaining eight yards on a run and King racking up 12 yards on three carries to get into Buckeye terrain.
The drive would fizzle, and Atlanta would be forced to punt. On what seemed like a fake punt Samples was tackled by an untouched defender and Gilmer took over at the Rabbit 45.
Five plays later the Bucs were back in the endzone.
The PAT drove the score to, 38-30, with 4:29 left in the contest.
Atlanta needed a score and a 2-point conversion to tie the game, and began the next drive with run plays by Samples and King.
On second down Samples hit Brown for 31 yards but that was followed up by a short run by Dra Nelson and two incomplete passes which brought up fourth down from the Gilmer 29.
The next play sealed the game for Gilmer as the fourth down pass was intercepted and run in for a touchdown.
The PAT put the score at, 45-30, with 1:46 left in the game.
Atlanta attempted a comeback drive which looked promising albeit with short time as Samples hit both Brown and Wood on the drive for nice gains.
Unfortunately, the Rabbs fumbled the ball away and Gilmer kneeled a few times to end the game.
Samples was 13-of-26 for 265 yards passing with two TDs and had 52 yards rushing with two scores.
King had 212 rushing yards with a score and reeled in two catches for 63 yards and a TD.
Webster finished with 13 yards rushing and Nelson six.
Brown had three catches for 104 yards and a score, Webster added 21, Edwards 39, Wood 20 and Rich 18.
Defensively Luke Anthony led the way with eight solo tackles, Samples had five, Oliver five and Collins four. Oliver was also in on 11 assisted tackles and both Connor Samples and Josh Lawson had nine each.
Pressuring Gilmer’s touted QB was key for the Rabbs as they held him to just 167 yards passing.
Both Collins and Lawson had two sacks apiece, Reggie Blaylock had one, Connor Samples added one and Shun Hunter had one.
Zee Barfoot and Hunter Belk also provided smothering defense on the QB.
To date Anthony leads the team with 41 solo tackles while Oliver leads with 91 assisted tackles.
On the season Samples has 1,186 passing yards with nine TDs and has 514 rushing yards with 10 TDs.
King leads all rushers with 1,031 yards and 10 TDs, Nelson has 301 yards with six scores and Webster has 103 yards to his credit.
Wood leads the receiving corps with 353 yards and two scores, King has 223 receiving yards with three TDs, Brown has 264 yards with four touchdowns and Edwards has 138 yards with a TD.
The Rabbs (4-5, 1-3) host a revamped Spring Hill team looking for its first district win. If the Rabbs win they are in the playoffs, but for Spring Hill to get in they must win by 11 or more.
Senior Night will take place before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff time.