RCHS survived an offensive explosion by both teams in Wedowee Thursday, while Handley cleared a major hurdle in its quest for the region championship with a win over Cherokee County.
Here's a quick look at the results for those two county teams and what they mean for their playoff hopes as we enter the home stretch of the regular season.
RCHS 56, Vincent 38
Folks that attended or watched the game in Wedowee Thursday got a firsthand example of what a football version of ping pong might look like, as RCHS outscored Vincent 56-38.
The two teams combined for over 1,100 yards of offense and zero punts in a back-and-forth game that RCHS finally put away late.
The only defensive stops for either team came via turnovers, and those all seemed to occur either in the end zone or at its doorstep. Two of RCHS's turnovers came deep in Vincent territory, while Vincent threw two interceptions in the end zone, ending what looked to be sure-fire scoring opportunities both times. J.D. Till hauled in both of those end zone picks, but that paled in comparison to his offensive contributions.
Till rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, as he gashed the Vincent defense behind RCHS's vaunted offensive line. While Till's numbers were gaudy, he was not alone in that department. Johnathan Wilson carried 14 times for 197 yards and five touchdowns, as the two backs combined to account for all of RCHS's scores.
It was an offensive outburst worthy of a blowout performance, but the Vincent offense, led by the passing of Will Harris and Blake Allums and the big-play ability of Tae McGregor matched RCHS blow-for-blow for most the night.
Harris and Allums combined to go 12-for-23 for 336 yards and two touchdowns, while Vincent also chugged out 204 yards and four more touchdowns on the ground.
The game was very much in doubt until RCHS, leading 49-38, finally came up with back-to-back defensive stops in the fourth quarter. Till's second interception in the end zone ended a drive that could have cut the lead to within one score.
Wilson then followed that with a 63-yard touchdown run on RCHS's next possession to extend the lead to 18 points.
Then on what turned out to be their final possession the Yellow Jackets were backed up in a first-and-13 situation following a penalty on their first-down play near midfield. RCHS cranked up the pass rush on Allums and sacked him on two consecutive plays, once by Austin Terrell and again by Joshua Holloway to set up impossible third and fourth down situations. The Yellow Jackets turned it over on downs and RCHS ran out the clock from there.
The win sets up a big showdown next week between RCHS, which is ranked No. 1 in the state, and Lanett, which defeated Ranburne 48-0 Thursday. RCHS and Lanett are both unbeaten in region play, so next week's game could decide who wins the region championship.
Handley 41, Cherokee County 20
Tae Meadows rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Cannon Kyles passed for 145 yards and two more scores in his first start at the varsity level as Handley remained unbeaten on the season with a 41-30 win over Cherokee County.
The two teams came into the game tied for first place with matching 3-0 region records, so with the win Handley takes over sole possession of the top spot with two region games remaining.
Meadows had touchdown runs of 72 and 48 yards, while Kyles connected with Maurice Cameron on a 17-yard scoring pass and then hit Dylan Brooks for a 14-yarder in the decisive third quarter.
Handley is now 5-0 overall and 3-0 in region play.
Look for complete coverage of these games in next week's print edition of the Randolph Leader.