Callaway senior comes through

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

ROCKMART – Callaway’s Courtney Williams had a chance to make a game-saving play, and he didn’t disappoint.

In the final minutes of last week’s dramatic playoff game, Rockmart was driving with a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

Rockmart was facing a fourth-and-long situation from just outside the 10-yard line, and quarterback Dylan Bailey dropped back to pass.

Bailey was under pressure, and he threw the ball just short of the end zone and right into the arms of Williams, Callaway’s senior safety.

Williams not only made the catch to prevent the Yellow Jackets from scoring, but he went nearly the lengthy of the field for the touchdown to give Callaway a 40-28 lead.

Rockmart came back and scored a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left, but Callaway recovered the onside kick to secure the victory.

In a game filled with big plays, none was bigger than Williams’ touchdown

“Big play for Courtney at the end on the pick six,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “It put us up late and gave us momentum. It’s just a guy that has worked hard, and I was really proud of him for the play he made.”

Before Williams’ interception, Rockmart had driven down the field to get in position for the possible go-ahead touchdown.

When Rockmart got inside the Callaway 15-yard line, though, the drive stalled.

Before fourth down, Rockmart called a timeout, giving Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard an opportunity to put a plan in place for the most important play of the game.

“Rockmart took a timeout right before the play, and we actually changed our defense,” Hubbard said. “We went to something we hadn’t shown all night. We went to a three-man front, and brought some pressure on the outside, and it ended up working out good for us.”

Hubbard added that “Tely Fanning got some pressure from the outside, and he had to throw it before he was ready.

“He kind of hung it up there, and Courtney caught in on about the two and took it 98 for a touchdown.”

Williams was in the right place to make the play.

“He basically threw it to him,” Hubbard said. “I don’t know if he didn’t see him, but he hung it up. (The receiver) was coming across the middle, and Courtney was standing right there. He hit him right in the hands. And he did a great job on the return. He got to the near sideline, and he got down the sideline and picked up some blocks, and he ended up going all the way.”

That was part of a big game for Williams, who also recovered the ball on a kickoff to give the ball to Callaway.

“He made some big plays for us throughout the night,” Hubbard said. “He played really well.”

Another defensive standout for Callaway was senior linebacker Jonathan Leonard, who had 17 tackles.

Leonard has more than 100 tackles for the second straight season, and he reached that total in the ninth game this year.

Hubbard also said sophomore linebacker R.J. Williams played well and had eight tackles.

“His playing time has really gone up the past three or four weeks,” Hubbard said of Williams. “And we felt like he had a really good game, and Lichon Terrell was really solid up front as well (on the defensive line).”

Rockmart’s offense had a successful night.

The Yellow Jackets have been an explosive team throughout the season, and they had more than 450 yards of offense with five touchdowns in Friday’s game.

“They’re really good offensively, and we knew that going in,” Hubbard said. “We also had some chances where we could have separated ourselves a couple of different times, and we didn’t do it. That was part of it. They played hard, and we couldn’t separate.”

One of Callaway’s best chance to create some separation came late in the first half.

The Cavaliers had a 28-14 lead, but the Yellow Jackets drove for a touchdown go get within seven heading to the half.

That touchdown drive was aided by a successful conversion on a fake-punt attempt, although Hubbard said his defense was ready for the play.

“I felt like the only frustrating drive where we didn’t play well was the one right before the half,” Hubbard said. “We’re up 28-14, and we get a stop on about the 45 and it’s fourth-and-eight. And we didn’t even put our punt return on. We kept our defense out. And they faked a punt, and we had them for about a 3-yard gain, and we missed two or three tackles in a row and the kid fought and got a first down. And they scored with about 25 seconds to go in the half, and we felt like we kind of gave them that one.”

Callaway’s defense faces another challenge this week.

Brooks County averages 33 points per game, and it put 35 points on the scoreboard against an unbeaten Dodge County team last week.

Callaway beat Brooks County 28-14 in the second round of the state playoffs last season.

“It’s a lot of the same guys,” Hubbard said. “It’s the same coach, so they’ll basically be running the same type stuff. They’re solid, and they’re physical.”