A road football game against a Lake Country rival didn’t end well for Putnam.
The War Eagles were defeated by their rival, Greene County High School, by a 31-14 score last Friday night. Putnam put up a fight in the first half and had many opportunities for big plays but, unfortunately for the Eagles, it was not enough to keep them from sliding to 1-2 on the season.
“They’ve got playmakers, and their quarterback is a very good athlete,” Eagles head coach Shaun Pope said. “We let him get the ball in space too many times and didn’t hem him up when we needed to.”
The Putnam offense came out strong in the opening minutes of the game when quarterback Ethan Crouch ran from Putnam’s own 44-yard line to the other 44-yard line on a keeper. Soon after, Marcus Jefferson caught a long pass to the 1-yard line, allowing Crouch to punch in the first of the two Eagle touchdowns on the day.
Greene County quarterback C’Darius Kelley was quick on his feet on the following Tiger drive, bringing his offense to the Putnam County 11-yard line. A tackle for loss by Raymond Lee, a Greene County holding call and a combined sack from Jacobee Lane and Tevin Digby held the Tigers to just a field goal, giving the Eagles an early 7-3 lead.
Putnam went three-andout on its next offensive drive and later allowed the Tigers to rip off a long run to the 3-yard line. Greene scored on the next play to take the lead. Later in the game as the second quarter was winding down, the Eagles managed to overcome a first-and-12 to reach the 28 and, a few plays later, Jacquarias Waller scored the second Eagle touchdown of the evening.
Unfortunately for Putnam, Greene County tacked on a late touchdown to go up 17-14 with 28 second left in the half. The Tigers took over from there.
“I thought we had a chance at the end of the half to stick a nail in the coffin,” Pope said. “We let him come back on the field and make some plays when we could have put them away before the half.”
Several dropped passes greatly affected the Eagles all night as Putnam would not be able to capitalize on good offensive looks and wide-open receivers to find more success on offense. Penalties on both sides of the ball also hurt the Eagles’ scoring efforts, as did missed tackles on Kelley and other Tiger playmakers.
Putnam’s defense stepped up at several big moments on the night, including a fourth down stand early in the third quarter against a Greene County drive that began on Putnam’s own 25. Putnam later had a rather controversial stand at the goal line.
After a bad snap on a punt put the Tigers in the red zone, the Eagle defense stopped Kelley on fourthand-1 to turn the ball over. However, many Greene County players and spectators insisted that Kelley was well within the end zone for a Tiger touchdown, but the call was not made.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the result of the goal line stand ultimately didn’t matter as a bad snap that went over the head of Crouch rolled through the back of the end zone, giving the Tigers a safety and putting them back on offense.
After another stalled Eagles drive, Marquez Maddox recovered a fumble to give Putnam a chance to get the offense going as the fourth quarter began to tick away. However, passing issues turned the ball over to the Tigers once again, and Greene put the game away with another touchdown and went on to win the contest, 31-14.
“We’ve got to be disciplined against good football teams, and especially against very athletic quarterbacks,” Pope said. “We missed some tackles and we’ve got to do a better job with athletes like him.”
Putnam County is off this week before hosting its first region opponent, Rabun County, on Sept. 14. Putnam will be returning several key defensive players who were out for the game against the Tigers, including linebacker Kevarious Brownlow, who has been out since the first half of Putnam’s last scrimmage game.
“He’s the leader of our defense,” Pope said about Brownlow’s return. “We’re excited to get him back. He’s the one that really makes us go on defense. We’re a lot better defense when he’s out there.”
Putnam County hosts Rabun County Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.