By Erik Green
The Calhoun Times
Gordon Central wrapped up the No. 3 seed in Region 5-3A and secured a spot in the playoffs Friday night following a 50-26 win over North Murray in the final game of the regular season.
The Warriors (8-2, 5-2) are going to the playoffs for the second straight year after a drought dating back to 2005. A much improved North Murray team fell a couple of games short of its first ever playoff berth, finishing 5-5, 2-5.
M.J. Reynolds passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He finished the first half with 205 yards passing and three scores.
North Murray quarterback Brady Swilling finished with 283 yards passing, but everything that could have gone wrong for North Murray pretty much did.
However, they battled to the last second and nearly came back to upset the Warriors.
“I can’t brag on our seniors enough,” Mountaineers’ first-year coach David Gann said. “They go from an 0-10 (season last year) to 5-5 and being in most of the games they lost in the fourth quarter. They didn’t lay down and they didn’t quit and they just kept battling. This is certainly something we can build upon.”
Early on, however, the Mountaineers looked as though they would be blown out as they quickly fell behind 17-0.
North Murray wasn’t without any bright spots early, however. David Martin made life miserable for Reynolds, sacking him twice early. Still, Reynolds continued to air it out.
Trailing big early, North Murray tried a couple of fake punts to no avail and the Mountaineers trailed 31-0 at the half.
In the second half, North Murray began showing signs of life.
On their second drive, the Mountaineers marched 95 yards on 10-plays to get on the board with a 22-yard Swilling pass to Hinton McConkey.
The Mountaineers struck again on their next drive, mounting a four play drive capped by a 67-yard Swilling run. The two-point conversion failed and it was 31-12. Gordon Central responded with a score, but North Murray was not done.
Swilling found Jon Olinger on a 34-yard touchdown strike with 10:05 to go, but it was too-little too-late. Swilling hit Aaron Granger on a 41-yard touchdown pass with 6:41 to go and two-point conversion was good, cutting the lead to 43-26.