GARNER -- Garner began its quest to return to the state championship game in impressive fashion as the top-seeded Trojans rolled into the second round of the NCHSAA 4-AA playoffs Friday night with a 59-21 win over visiting Athens Drive.
“I feel real good about this kind of start to the playoffs,” Garner coach Nelson Smith said. “I knew Athens Drive was a good team. I’m proud of our defense and our offense. We held our composure early in the game when they cut in to our lead. That’s what this group does, they just keep bouncing back.”
On the first play from scrimmage, Trojans quarterback Vincent Jeffries connected with Armani Lanier for a 55-yard gain. Three plays later Tyler Hinton plowed into the end zone from one yard out.
One minute and 24 seconds into the game, unbeaten Garner led 7-0.
Lanier continued to make big plays in the first quarter, this time on special teams. The senior wide receiver took a Jaguars’ punt at his own 29-yard line all the way back for the Trojans’ second score of the game with 5:55 still remaining in the opening period.
In a quarter full of big plays, Athens (5-7) finally joined the action with 2:00 left. Quarterback Jason West hit Brad Bowling down the left sideline to pull the Jags to within a touchdown at 14-7.
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