HIAWASSEE, GA – For the second straight season, the Towns County Indians opened up with their cross-state rival, the Hayesville (NC) Yellow Jackets.

And, for the second straight season, the Tribe came out on top.

Behind Zach Davenport’s three rushing touchdowns, Towns County beat the Jackets, 38-21, at their home of Frank McClure Field.

Towns picked up a 42-yard Wesley Calhoun field goal on their first drive. But Hayesville bobbled the kick off, resulting in a turnover for Towns. Cole Ledford knocked it in from 12 yards out to make it 10-0.

Hayesville answered when Alan Gillis connected to a streaking Devin Boykin for a 62 yard score. The Jackets couldn’t convert on a pass play, making it 10-6. Davenport scored his first score at the end of the first. It was 17-6 Towns after 12 minutes.

Logan Cowart scored from eight yards out. Then Davenport added his other two rushing touchdowns, from one and 16 yards respectively, to put the contest out of reach. Gillis had two more scoring throws, including one in the final minute to Payton Krieger. Gillis wound up going 17 for 28 for about 250 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Towns controlled the line of scrimmage, allowing the rushing attack of Davenport (187 total yards) and Ledford (96) to run freely. The Indians amassed over 350 yards of total rushing and wore down the clock.

“Our young offensive line blocked really well tonight,” said Tribe head coach John Cornett.

Gillis completed medium and short-range passes, and this was by design. “We chose to take away the run and not get beat deep,” said Cornett. “So, short passes is what we give up.”

It was the season opener, so penalties were plentiful. But Towns seemed to commit more than their share of downfield block in the back infractions, especially by the other wideouts.

“We had too many penalties overall,” said Cornett. “That was just our receivers going extra hard to block.  It’s a tough call especially when the defensive backs turn their backs at the last second, but it is something we need to get better at.”

Towns is off this Friday. The Hayesville match will be the Tribe’s only non-region matchup, as the grueling 8-A schedule starts on September 1 with a visit to George Walton Academy in Monroe. It’s the first of three straight road games to start the region. Last season, five teams made the state playoffs from 8-A, where Towns is only one of two public schools. The other, Commerce, is a perennial power.

Cornett will only look so far in the future. “George Walton is the only game on our schedule right now.”

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