VALDOSTA — The Valdosta High School Wildcats’ offense upended the Archer Tigers on Friday at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, resulting in a 41-16 win to advance the Wildcats to the next round of the GHSA state 7-A playoffs.
Archer started the game at their 35 yard line with an impressive drive. They moved swiftly up the field due to two passes for 27 yards and two penalties against Valdosta. Valdosta managed to hold the Tigers’ push, where on fourth down, Archer kicked a 17-yard field goal to make the game 3-0.
The Tigers successfully recovered their offside kick, holding possession for another series. A flip pass to Colby Alexander for 18 yards gave a promising start to the series. Sadly for Archer, a fumble on a run stalled their drive, putting the Wildcats on their own 6 yard line for their first series of the game with 8:17 left in the first quarter.
Valdosta’s offense started strong with a long drive to the end zone, carried by runs by Todd Robinson and Deron Foster. A successful pass to Eli Lewis put Valdosta right outside the goal line. Following a timeout from Archer, Amari Tomblin ran and flipped into the endzone for the game’s first touchdown. Franklin Garcia’s extra point made the game 7-3 with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
Valdosta’s defense was stout, not allowing a first down in Archer’s third series, forcing an impressive 47-yard punt from the Tigers that started Valdosta on their 28.
The first quarter ended as the Wildcats started their drive. Opting to run on fourth down, Shakevious Wright ran up the middle for a first down, creating Valdosta’s momentum toward the goal line.
Following a pass to Archer’s 46 yard line, Foster, with a strong run, put the Wildcats four yards away from the end zone where, on the next play, he again ran it in for the touchdown. The extra point from Garcia made the score 14-3 with 10:14 left in the second quarter.
Archer’s next possession looked to be short due to Valdosta’s defense and a false start on the Tigers. A pass and penalty on the Wildcats helped sustain their drive. Another penalty and a pass took Archer to Valdosta’s 38. Their drive stalled, though, and they were about to punt until Valdosta was penalized for having too many men on the field. Archer opted for the 33-yard field goal try, which was unsuccessful.
Valdosta started their possession at their 20 with a 42-yard run from Robinson. The Tigers’ defense stood tall, holding Valdosta to fourth down. A turnover on downs put Archer on their 31-yard line.
Archer could not make a first down, and after a series of penalties offset each other from both teams, the Tigers were forced to punt back to the Wildcats.
Valdosta sustained a drive to the end zone with little time left in the half. After using their last timeout of the half, Robinson completed a pass, adding another touchdown for Valdosta, and the extra point was successful, making the score 21-3 with 33.6 seconds left in the half.
With little time left before intermission, Archer could not create a meaningful drive, and the quarter ended with Valdosta receiving possession.
Halftime included recognition of the inaugural varsity flag football team and a stellar Marching Cats marching band performance.
Archer was offside during the kickoff to begin the second half. Valdosta took advantage and started their drive with runs from Robinson and Foster to secure the first down. Unfortunately, a holding penalty pushed them back.
A pass to Lewis ensured the first down and save Valdosta’s drive on Archer’s 40. The Wildcats found themselves in the end zone again after a run from Tomblin. Another successful extra point made the score 28-3 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
On the Tigers’ first possession of the second half, they struggled to get any momentum, losing a lot of yards, with a sack from Jaylen Bentley to force the punt.
Valdosta started a long drive with good runs from Tomblin, eventually reaching Archer’s 9 yard line, where they held and opted for a successful 27-yard field goal. The score was 31- 3 with 44.5 seconds in the third quarter.
Desperate to make it down the field, Archer began their drive. A sack and a near-interception by Jabari Baker slowed them down. The punt team failed to handle the snap, and Valdosta recovered it for a touchdown with 11:30 left. An extra point was good, making the score 38-3.
Archer fired back with a successful touchdown drive, capped off by a 32-yard run by Tigers’ quarterback Jordan Do. They attempted an unsuccessful two-point conversion from the 8 line due to a false start penalty, making the score 38-9 with 10:10 remaining.
Valdosta started a strong push towards Archer’s goal line before being held at the Tigers’ 17-yard line. Unable to make the touchdown, a 27-yard Garcia field goal made the game 41-9 with 5:55 left in the game.
Not giving up to the end, Archer methodically attempted a drive again, with its momentum stalled by a sack by Miguel Brown that forced a punt to the Wildcats.
Archer’s defense continued to fight, making Valdosta punt for an impressive 55 yards. The Tigers then made it to the end zone and a successful extra point with 44 seconds left in the game to score the last points of the night.
Valdosta ran out the rest of the clock, and the game ended, making the final score 41-16.
The Wildcats will be on the road to Carrollton, to take on the Carrollton High School Trojans (Region 2’s top seed) this coming weekend.