Blue Thunder win state title
By Donald Heath | Morris News Service
Saturday, November 28, 2009

SANDERSVILLE, Ga. --- How many times can a victory emerge when defeat seems imminent?

That questions surrounded Memorial Day after it beat Brentwood 17-14 for a second GISA Class AA state championship in a row Friday night.

The Blue Thunder seemed to lose momentum for the third consecutive week before they regrouped for another fourth-quarter rally.

Again, senior Derrick Shavers was in the middle of the heroics.

"I'm proud of everyone who put on a Memorial jersey in history," said Thunder coach Michael Thompson.

Memorial Day, the third seed from Region 2, won all four postseason games on the road by a total of 16 points.

They won while star player Shaad Wright watched from the sidelines with a knee injury.

"We were focused and we played like a family, so I knew it was going to work out," said Shavers, who caught an 11-yard TD pass from Sal Sanchez with 1:08 left for the game-winner.

Brentwood drove to the Memorial 6 and set up to kick a game-tying field goal with 10 seconds to go. But holder Tucker Cobb couldn't handle the snap. He rolled to the left and found an open receiver but J.D. Riggs couldn't haul in the pass in the endzone.

"When (Cobb) released it, I thought we had it," Brentwood coach Bert Brown said.

Blue Thunder running backs Taylor Thompson and Jamari Mixon each ran for 84 yards. A.J. Welch, starting his 47th game in a row for Memorial, added 65 yards and a touchdown.

Gabby Sanchez had a 27-yard field goal.

With four minute left, Memorial trailed. Touchdown runs of 20 and 18 yards by Nick Burgamy had given Brentwood the lead with 10:45 seconds to go.

The winning drive began from the Memorial 24. Eight consecutive runs positioned the Thunder at the Brentwood 11.

Sanchez and Shavers then hooked up on a fade to the left-corner of the endzone.

"People doubted us all year. This (championship) feels better than the first," Thompson said.

Reach Donald Heath at

From the Saturday, November 28, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle


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