CANTON — Both coaches said the final score did not indicate how close the game really was, but it was the performance of a single player that was the difference in the outcome.
Dalton running back Jahmyr Gibbs finished with 316 yards and six touchdowns on 24 carries to help lead the Catamounts to a 42-19 victory Friday night at Creekview.
Dalton (4-0, 2-0 Region 6AAAAAA) passed the ball twice all game, and on only seven offensive plays did a player other than Gibbs end up with the ball for the Catamounts. With Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins in attendance after arriving by helicopter, the Yellow Jacket commit went over 1,000 yards on the season and continued to make a name for himself as the state’s leading rusher.
“This season has been special,” Gibbs said. “The offensive line has been blocking great, and everyone is doing the little things right, so it’s making the whole team better.”
Gibbs scored on his last two touches of the game — an 18-yard run and a 66-yarder in the fourth quarter — and said he called his own number on the final carry.
“The last one, I told coach to just give me the ball,” Gibbs said. “We kept running all this stuff we don’t normally run, and I said just run the ball and we’ll score. We ran it and we scored.”
Though the final score looked one-way, Creekview (3-2, 1-2) only trailed 21-19 at the end of the third quarter.
The Grizzlies’ game plan went almost to perfection in the first three quarters, with the offense able to stay on the field for extended drives and keep Gibbs on the sideline. After Gibbs’ first touchdown in the first quarter, Creekview quarterback Brody Rhodes connected with Ethan Dirrim for a 51-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to tie the game 7-7.
Rhodes, who finished 14-for-29 passing for 177 yards and one touchdown, said he felt his team was right in it.
“The first half, we were playing really well,” Rhodes said. “It would have been nice to punch those two field goals in for touchdowns, but we were moving the ball and keeping (Gibbs) off the field. He’s a heck of a player. I mean, there’s not a lot you can do about him. But we were right in it, and it could have been a nail-biter. They just ended up running away with it.”
Dalton led 21-13 at halftime, and Creekview opened the third quarter with an onside kick which the Grizzlies recovered. After a short drive, Dalton forced a turnover on downs, but, two plays later, Creekview’s Ethan Dirrim jumped the snap count and forced a fumble by Gibbs, which the Grizzlies recovered.
Creekview then marched 40 yards on seven plays, and Dirrim finished it himself with an 18-yard touchdown run that saw him hurdle a defender, spin away from another and run over the final defensive back to cross the goal line.
Dirrim finished with five receptions for 77 yards, four rushes for 26 yards and a touchdown and the forced fumble that set up his own score.
The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, but the Grizzlies seemed to have taken the momentum.
“I mean, we played our hearts out,” Creekview coach Trevor Williams said. “We just wanted to steal a possession on that onside kick to start the second half. You’ve got to score touchdowns and match a team like that score-for-score. I’m incredibly proud of our guys, though. Our offensive line is starting to grow up right in front of our eyes, and our seniors did a great job of leading with some adversity there late.”
Gibbs scored three touchdowns in the final quarter, and Creekview was unable to answer the onslaught.
Dalton coach Matt Land said he has had good players before, but never one as electric as Gibbs.
Gibbs echoed both coaches in saying the game was much closer than the final score. Even after a six-touchdown performance, the star of the game was talking about the opposition.
“They’re a really good team,” Gibbs said. “I think they were really well-coached, and they have multiple players who can make plays, like (Dirrim), (Brennen Kolb) and (Rhodes). Those guys are all good. It just came down to a couple plays tonight that we were able to make.”
Creekview will be on a bye next week before traveling to archrival Sequoyah on Oct. 4.