Cobb County’s delayed 2020 football season finally got underway last night with games being played all over the county. At Harrison’s Cobleigh Stadium, the Hoyas hosted the Allatoona Buccaneers for a rematch of last season’s 6A state championship game. Although Harrison has since moved up to 7A, the game is still an intense rivalry and the Bucs were looking to make a statement after losing to the Hoyas twice in 2019. It was the third meeting of the schools in their last 11 games.
“Allatoona is always a tough matchup for us,” said Harrison coach Matt Dickmann. “When you play them you have to put in a little more time. They are well-coached and always have a good plan of attack.”
Closing one season and beginning the next against the same team is rare. “Playing back to back games is very unusual,” said Allatoona coach Gary Varner. “It will probably never happen again. The reality is that last year’s teams have graduated a lot of seniors and that game will really have no impact on this year’s opener.”
Despite both schools fielding very different teams than last year, the season opening game had a similar feel to the championship game. The first half was slow and mostly felt like a chess match, while the second half was action-packed and more exciting. Also, special teams and defense played a big part in the numbers on the scoreboard.
Penalties were plentiful as both teams were obviously lacking in experience. Scrimmages were cancelled this year and it showed with the number of flags being thrown for false starts on both teams. First game jitters aside, the players were still learning how to operate as a team. The Hoyas came away with the sole points of the first half—an impressive 40-yard field goal by Christian Lowrey—taking a 3-0 lead into halftime.
The Hoyas continued their momentum in the third quarter, stopping the opening Buc drive and capitalizing on a long snap error to increase their lead to 10-0.
This was the turning point of the game for Allatoona though, as the Bucs went on to score the next 27 points of the game. The Buc offense came alive thanks to the capable rushing of tailback Jayden Ponder. Their first scoring drive was capped off by a 20-yard over-the-shoulder catch by WR Caleb Moore from QB Elan Hall.
Allatoona continued what they started in the third quarter with an early fourth quarter TD rush by Ponder. Two defensive touchdowns—an interception and a fumble recovery—increased the Buc lead to 27-10. A Hoya TD with seconds left in the game closed the scoring gap, but it was too little too late for Harrison. The game ended with a final score of 27-17.
Both schools continue their non-region schedules next week: Allatoona hosts 7A Denmark at home. Harrison plays their first 7A opponent of the season, traveling to North Forsyth.