WARRENTON, Ga. --- Tommy Seals accepted the blame for two early fumbles that stuck Warren County in a playoff hole on its newly turfed field. He more than made amends.
Seals piled up 361 total yards and accounted for five Screaming Devils touchdowns in a 42-29 victory over Eagles Landing Christian Academy in the first round of the Class A playoffs Friday.
Seals broke a 29-29 tie in the third quarter with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Devarrus Reynolds and added a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
"He's our guy," Warren County coach Lee Hutto said of his senior quarterback. "We're not going to change."
Seals fumbled twice in the first quarter to set the visiting Chargers up for quick touchdown drives of 15 and 2 yards and a 15-7 lead.
The senior was rarely stopped thereafter, making big plays with his legs and arm. Seals accounted for 13 plays of 15 or more yards on the night. The Screaming Eagles didn't have to punt until their final two possessions of the game in the fourth quarter.
"If we would have played our A-game early, it would have been over at halftime," Seals said. "We didn't want to get into a shootout."
On a cold night when Warren County fumbled the ball away three times in the first half, the Screaming Devils benefitted from seven Chargers turnovers.
"We got lucky," Hutto said after his Screaming Devils pulled away. "You don't turn the ball over three or four times and win. We can't continue to play like that and expect to keep winning."
The first half ended without any punts or turnovers on downs, but that didn't keep the ball from changing possession. The two teams combined for eight first-half turnovers -- including fumble exchanges on three consecutive plays -- and 51 points.
Warren County lost three fumbles in a span of six offensive plays, two of them leading to Eagles Landing Christian touchdowns after short drives of 15 and 2 yards to take a 15-7 lead.
But the Chargers were no less generous, fumbling the ball away three times and throwing two interceptions which the Screaming Devils converted into 19 points on three consecutive possessions.
Darius Jenkins stole the ball directly out of quarterback Wes Carter's hands and returned it 11 yards to cut the Chargers' lead to 15-13.
After an Antonio Benton interception, the Screaming Devils drove 59 yards in nine plays to reclaim the lead on a Seals 1-yard run.
On the next series, Tay Erwin recovered a Carter fumble at the Warren County 40.
Nine plays later, Seals ran around the right corner untouched for a 24-yard touchdown and a 26-15 lead.
Eagles Landing Christian answered with a 35-yard touchdown run from Carter, but Warren County responded with a 65-yard drive to set up a 26-yard C.J. Williams field goal before the half to make it 29-22.
The Chargers took the opening kick of the third quarter and marched 50 yards to tie that game at 29 before Seals and his Devils pulled away.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WARREN COUNTY 42, EAGLES LANDING CHRISTIAN 29
PLAY OF THE GAME: Devarrus Reynolds hauled in a pass from Tommy Seals and turned up the sideline the final 30 yards for a 46-yard touchdown that broke a tie at 29.
WHY WARREN COUNTY WON: Seals dominated every time he stepped out with big plays.
WHY EAGLES LANDINGS CHRISTIAN LOST: Chargers turned the ball over seven times.
STAR OF THE GAME: Seals rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 151 yards and another score.
WHAT'S NEXT: Warren County plays host to winner of Jefferson-Bowdon on Friday.