Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin said a third straight championship “wasn’t really on the radar” when the season started. There were too many holes to plug. Too many questions to answer. But before long he began to understand and the enjoy the makeup of this club, which overcame all of the uncertainties to bring home another title.
Tailback Elijah Green, a North Carolina commit was never a question mark and the senior showed up big again on Saturday. He rushed 21 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday – both coming in the final two minutes of the first half – and led Blessed Trinity to a 17-14 win over Oconee County and the Titans’ third straight state championship.
Green’s most important carry may have been his last. On fourth-and-2 at the 6 late in the game, Green plowed off tackle for a first down, which enabled Blessed Trinity (14-1) to run out the clock and secure the win.
“I learned a lot from these kids,” McFarlin said. “I really enjoyed watching how hard they worked every day and we never had the luxury to look down the road. It was always the next week and it’s a lot to be gained from that process.”
The No. 3-ranked Titans were able to control the final 8:57 of the game by keeping the ball almost exclusively on the ground and picking up five first downs. A key play came on fourth-and-2 at the 25 when the Titans pulled off a reverse, with Carson Harof gaining 10 yards to move the chains.
“Well, we were desperate,” McFarlin said. “Because if we didn’t make a first day, Max (Johnson, the Oconee quarterback) would get it and we didn’t want him to have it.”
Blessed Trinity also got 52 yards rushing from Justice Haynes. Quarterback Duncan Reavis completed 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards, none bigger than a third-down conversion pass to tight end Grayson Gilder on the final drive.
Reavis began the season as a defensive back and slot receiver, but was pressed into action when the starter was injured on the eve of the season.
Quarterback Max Johnson, an LSU commitment, of No. 6 Oconee County (13-2) completed 7 of 20 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Jimmy Boswell was the leading rusher with 38 yards.
“I’m really proud of our secondary,” McFarlin said. “Max Johnson is so good and his little brother … holy smokes, he’s good. Our second played good.”
Blessed Trinity scored on its first possession, thanks to a 70-yard run by Green. The Titans had their drive stopped because of an illegal-block penalty and settled for a 34-yard Aaron Werkheiser field goal.
Oconee County got it back on the next possession, driving 67 yards and scoring on a 34-yard pass from Max Johnson to West Weeks to take a 7-3 lead.
Blessed Trinity scored twice in the final two minutes of the first half. The Titans struck with 1:21 left when Green scooted around the left end for a 30-yard touchdown run. Blessed Trinity began the drive at the 30 after punting the ball dead at the 3 and forcing the Warriors to kick it away.
After forcing Oconee to go three-and-out, the Titans again gave the ball to Green, who hit the corner and scored on a 66-yard run with 11 seconds remaining in the half. Blessed Trinity led 17-7.
“Those two touchdowns were huge,” McFarlin said. “Because we knew points were going to be hard to come by and it let you know how quick things can kind of get away from you and how they change.”
Oconee County had its most impressive drive to close the third quarter. The Warriors drove 52 yards in 13 plays and scored when Johnson threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jake Johnson with 49 seconds left, cutting the lead to 17-14.
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