Blue Thunder roar on to state championship game
By Donald Heath | Morris News Service
Saturday, November 21, 2009

WAYNESBORO, Ga. --- Blue Thunder turned into white lightning just in time Friday night at Rogers Field.

Memorial Day's Blue Thunder rallied from a 14-point, second-half deficit and defeated Edmund Burke 22-14 to play for their second consecutive GISA Class AA state championship.

The Thunder (9-3) will travel to Brentwood, a 13-8 winner over Southwest Georgia Academy, next Friday night.

It wasn't an easy road. Memorial rallied last Friday against Piedmont Academy and needed to turn the tides 180 degrees against the host Spartans.

"We were down, thinking we were going to lose, but (the game) is four quarters and we came at it hard," said Derrick Shavers, whose insertion at quarterback late in the third quarter made the Thunder roar.

Before Shavers' move with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, Memorial had been outgained 146-3 in total yardage with no first downs.

In miraculous fashion, Shavers ran for a 29-yard touchdown, and completed a key 45-yard pass to Kevin Palmer to set up another score to tie the game.

And when the Thunder's defense stiffened after Burke went for a fourth-and-one situation from its own 29, Shavers led a third-consecutive touchdown drive for the game-winner.

"We've been (rotating quarterbacks) all year," said Memorial offensive coordinator Tony Welch. "(Moving Shavers to quarterback) sped up the game, and we started making some plays."

A.J. Welch, who had a costly fumble in the third quarter, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to push the Thunder into the lead.

Palmer sacked Burke quarterback Logan Christian in the end zone for a safety with 1 minute, 35 seconds left for the final margin of victory.

"They put an athlete at quarterback, and he started running around, and we couldn't tackle him," Edmund Burke coach Buddy Sorrow said.

Sorrow, a former assistant at Effingham County, defended his Bill Belichick-like decision to go for the first down at the 29 with the score tied and 10 minutes to go.

"We had confidence we could pick up the first down, plus we didn't want to give them the ball back," Sorrow said.

From the Saturday, November 21, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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