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For the second week in a row, and for the fourth time in five games, the Coffee Trojans shut out their opponents. This time, Coffee defeated the Jenkins Warriors 34-0 at Jardine Stadium on Homecoming. The Trojans are now 8-0 overall and 3-0 in region play.
And in another streak spanning consecutive weeks, a Trojan running back scored three touchdowns. Senior ATH Anthony Paulk, who scored twice last week in Statesboro, added three more touchdowns to give him nine on the season.
Homecoming games are always special but this particular game had several different plot lines that created a buzz seldom felt at Jardine Stadium. First of all, there was the fact that it was Homecoming. Then Coffee High alum and the NFL’s #1 wide receiver Tyreek Hill was on the sidelines to show his support for his old team. And senior running back Fred Brown was just 160 yards away from breaking Louis Smith’s 26-year-old single-season school rushing record. With Brown averaging 161 yards this season, there was a good chance he would break the record Friday night.
Any of those on their own would be enough to electrify the crowd. All three together? This was no ordinary football game.
Early on, Coffee struggled a bit to get going. The Trojans were heavily favored over the 2-5 Warriors but they certainly didn’t look dominant in the opening minutes. The Warriors knew they were Homecoming fodder. And they didn’t want to be the team that surrendered a record of any kind. They did their best to stymie Coffee at every turn.
Finally, about halfway through the first quarter, quarterback Maurice Hansley found Brady Shook in the end zone from seven yards out for the Trojans’ first touchdown of the night. A few minutes later, Paulk danced in from four yards out to give Coffee a 14-0 lead after Jonah Saylor’s extra point sailed through the uprights. Paulk scored again as the first quarter wound down on a 72-yard pass from Hansley. At the end of the first period, Coffee had a very comfortable 21-0 lead. The Trojans didn’t score again for the rest of the first half. Coffee attempted a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter that went wide left. The two teams went into halftime with the score still 21-0.
While Paulk, Shook, and Hansley were taking care of the scoring in the first half, Brown was racking up yards even though he didn’t put any points on the board. He finished the first half with 94 yards on 12 carries — just 66 yards away from the record.
During the third quarter, Brown continued running the ball but still couldn’t get in the end zone. Paulk scored his third touchdown of the night on another four yard run. This time, Jenkins blocked Saylor’s point-after. With 2:56 remaining in the third quarter, the Trojans were up 27-0.
Brown finally struck with 8:04 left in the game. With the Trojans on their own 35, Brown rumbled 65 yards for Coffee’s final touchdown on the night. However, the score came on a Hansley pass so his 65 yards didn’t count toward the record. At that point, he was 32 yards away.
After that score, head coach Mike Coe told Brown and the offensive line they only had a couple of more plays to get it done. On Coffee’s next drive, they made good on the limited opportunities they had left.
With the Trojans at their own 47, Brown busted through the line for a 38-yard run, giving him 166 yards on the night and sole ownership of Coffee’s single-season rushing record (see accompanying story for more on Brown’s record-setting performance).
After a short celebration, there was still a game to finish. And this time, the Trojans didn’t want to give up a late touchdown to spoil a shutout bid. Coffee handled their business over the last few minutes, preserved the shutout, and came away with another region victory.
“It wasn’t pretty but that’s alright. An ugly win is a lot better than a pretty loss. We’re proud of our defense — another goose egg. We’ll go back to work and fix some of these mistakes. We’ve got Greenbrier next week and hopefully go 4-0 and secure a spot in the playoffs. They’re coming in and they’re going to try and take something from us. We gotta go work for it. I can’t wait for next Friday,” said Coach Coe. When asked if his team might be looking ahead to the Ware County game in two weeks, Coe said with a smirk, “Don’t even ask me about it. If you do, I’m not going to answer it.” Then he jogged off the field to meet with his team in the locker room.
Next week’s game against Greenbrier is the final home game of the season. Kick-off is set for 7:30.
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