Cherokee beats Starr's Mill at Georgia Dome

Sat, 09/01/2007 - 4:21pm
By: Kevin Wandra
Ugly would be the best word to describe the Cherokee Warriors' 10-3 victory Saturday over the Starr's Mill Panthers in the Kell Powerade Classic at the Georgia Dome.

The game didn't feature many offensive highlights for either team. Cherokee running back John Valentine's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:22 remaining in the fourth quarter was the lone touchdown scored. Starr’s Mill’s only points came on Sam Martin’s 37-yard field goal with 3:13 left in the first half.

On the ensuing drive after Valentine scored, Starr’s Mill drove into Cherokee territory late in the fourth quarter, reaching the Warriors’ 34-yard line. But Cherokee’s Chrys Johnson out-leaped Starr’s Mill wide receiver Lontrell Anderson near the end zone to come down with an interception of a Matt Sweat pass to seal the Warriors’ victory.

It was a season-opening rematch for the two teams; Starr's Mill crushed Cherokee 35-7 in the Kell Powerade Classic at the Dome last year.

Playing without Robby Davis, who is playing for Navy, at quarterback for the first time in three years, Starr’s Mill’s offense experienced significant growing pains.

Sweat, a first-year starter, who was playing with an injured hip suffered a week earlier in a scrimmage against Sandy Creek, and the rest of Starr’s Mill’s offense found it difficult to churn out yards against a tough Cherokee defense. The Warriors held Starr’s Mill’s offense to only 130 total yards, including a paltry 13 rushing yards, and kept it out of the end zone.

“Offensively, we just didn’t make plays,” Starr’s Mill coach Mike Earwood said. “I don’t know if it’s experience or it’s a talent problem. The bottom line, we’ve got to get better.”

It could have been an even longer afternoon for Starr’s Mill if it weren’t for the team’s defense.

Starr’s Mill’s defense allowed 303 total yards offense, but the only touchdown Cherokee scored came late.

Inside linebackers Chris Sudduth and Parker duPont were tackling machines for the Panthers. Sudduth had a team-high 19 tackles, including 14 solo, and duPont finished with 15 tackles, including nine solo.

"Defensively, we played well enough to win," Earwood said.

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