PARIS – After struggling to get into the end zone for most of the game, Henry County running back Chase Henderson ripped off two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Patriots scored 21 fourth-quarter points in a 31-21 win over Beech.
The two teams have combined for four of the past five 5A state championships, including the past three, but it was the 2013 winner who proved too strong in the fourth quarter.
Despite running 36 of 39 plays inside Beech (1-1) territory in the first half, Henry County (1-1) struggled to cap its numerous opportunities.
Henderson said Henry County’s players just needed to trust one another.
“We just had to stay focused and trust each other and trust what the coaches tell us to do,” said Henderson, who had 18 carries for 134 yards. “I give all the praise to our offensive line, fullbacks and coaches. After last week’s loss (21-14 to Liberty Tech), we came in on Monday and went back to work.”
Beech benefited from the big play, as the offense struggled to maintain any consistency.
Henderson’s 17-yard touchdown run early in the fourth gave Henry County a 17-14 lead, but was immediately answered by a 56-yard TD run by Beech quarterback Ian Hafner.
Henderson answered with a 70-yard touchdown run on the second play after Hafner’s score, and R’Tario Perkins’ 22-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter sealed it for Henry County.
“This was a game that was going to come down to who made the fewest mental mistakes, and we managed to make more than they did,” Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said.
Said Henry County coach James Counce: “We gave up some big plays, but I think we may have learned something about ourselves tonight.”