SNELLVILLE -- Safety Austin Exford scored on a 40-yard interception and a blocked punt in the fourth quarter as Shiloh scored 19 unanswered points in the final period to defeat Berkmar, 19-7, in the Region 8-AAAAAA opener for both teams.
The junior safety, who missed significant time in the Generals' first two games due to migraine headaches, led a stifling Shiloh defense that shutout the high-scoring Patriots after one early touchdown.
"I don't know which one was bigger, the interception or the blocked punt," said Shiloh head coach Troy Hobbs. "Our offense will be OK, but our defense has really made the difference so far in our season."
It's the first time that Shiloh (3-0, 1-0) has won its first three games since 1991.
Exford's heroics helped Shiloh recover from a disastrous start to the fourth. Down 7-0, but with second-and-goal on the Berkmar 1, Shiloh quarterback Devante James was stuffed on a quarterback sneak, and on third-and-1, James fumbled into the end zone and Berkmar recovered.
Hoping for a score to widen its lead, quarterback Jaquan Morris threw a long pass down the left sideline that was picked off by a leaping Exford, who broke several tackles en route to his TD. Seconds after Exford scored, the Shiloh Community Stadium lights went dark for 20 minutes. When the lights went back on, Blake Morgan kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
Shiloh's defense controlled the rest of the game, with Morris intercepted again on the next series by the Generals' Austin Lang at the Shiloh 43. Two runs by Garland Whorley moved the ball to the Patriots' 12, but the drive stalled and Morgan missed a 29-yard field goal attempt.
Berkmar (1-2, 0-1) couldn't generate a first down on its next drive, forcing Emanuel Ouolusamya to punt from his own 4 when Exford blocked the punt and carried the ball into the end zone.
"We had a play designed to block the punt, and I just ran at the punter as hard as I could," Exford said.
Down 13-7, Berkmar gained one first down in its next series to its own 34, but Morris fumbled with 4:25 to go and junior linebacker Keith Thicklin recovered at the Berkmar 23. Two plays later, junior Grant Swinton's 23-yard run sealed the victory.
Berkmar's lone touchdown came on a 78-yard drive in the first quarter, with Morris completed all five of his passes for 41 yards. Morris finished the game completing 16 of 35 passes for 160 yards and two interceptions.