SNELLVILLE— For the first time in 10 seasons, the Shiloh Generals won’t end the year with a losing record.
Shiloh defeated Central Gwinnett 31-14 on the final week of the regular season Friday night to finish the year 5-5 overall and 3-5 in Region 8-AAAAAA play.
Junior Jeremy McDuffie led the way with 198 yards rushing and two fourth-quarter touchdowns that sealed the win.
“Hopefully this will springboard us into the winter, and next spring and next summer,” Shiloh head coach Troy Hobbs said. “That win two weeks ago over Parkview, I hope that showed the kids we can play when we put it all together. I’m not saying anything but that was big win for us.”
Central looked like it had control of the game in the first half. Junior quarterback Eric Forrest completed 13 of 20 first-half passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. Forrest completed seven passes of 11 yards or more in the first half.
First he connected with Chris Shelling for a short gain that Shelling took 40 yards for a touchdown. Major Bellamy hauled in a two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead with four seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Bellamy then scored on a three-yard run for a 14-10 lead with 3:50 left in the second quarter. In addition to the two scoring drives, Central had twice driven the ball down inside the Shiloh 10-yard line before turning it over on downs.
The Black Knights were set to receive the ball at the start of the second half with a 14-10 lead before Shiloh stole the game’s momentum in the final two seconds of the first half.
Quarterback Sean Halsey chucked up a prayer towards Cameron Stewart and the pass was batted away by multiple defenders but it landed in the diving arms of James Mials in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead as time expired in the first half.
“That was a huge momentum swing right there,” Central head coach Todd Wofford said. “We could have been up at the half and then we actually bat the ball down like we taught them and there’s a guy lying down on the ground that catches the ball. That changed the momentum.”
Mials, who also scored on a two-yard run in the first quarter, actually wasn’t even supposed to leave the backfield on the play according to Hobbs.
“James Mials was supposed to actually be in the backfield blocking but he decided to line up out there,” Hobbs said. “For some reason I don’t know why, but he came open and thank God it worked for us.”
With both Central running backs banged up in the second half, the Knights were forced to become one-dimensional and rely on Forrest’s arm.
Shiloh turned up the pressure to finish the game with six sacks and two second-half interceptions, as Forrest completed just 17 of 30 pass attempts for 99 yards in the final two quarters.
“We just had to tackle better,” Hobbs said. “Get some pressure on the quarterback and make tackles. (Central) is going to make plays, we just had to tackle out in space and the kids starting making plays.”
While Shiloh finished the season with more than four wins for the first time since 2003, Central finished the year a disappointing 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the region.
“Learn from this season,” Wofford said of what he’d tell his players after the game. “We lost half the games by a touchdown or one score, we were in every game this year against Gwinnett teams so we’ve got to have a diehard off-season and learn from this and have a totally new focused attitude and be as hungry as they’ve been in the past.”
Central 8 6 0 0 - 14
Shiloh 7 10 0 14 - 31
Shiloh: James Mials 2 run (Adrian Lollar kick) 7:01
Central: Chris Shelling 40 pass from Eric Forrest (Major Bellamy pass from Forrest two-point conversion) 0:04
Shiloh: Lollar 40 FG, 10:14
Central: Bellamy 3 run (two-point failed) 3:50
Shiloh: Mials 35 pass from Sean Halsey (Lollar kick), 0:00
Shiloh: Jeremy McDuffie 3 run (Lollar kick), 8:09
Shiloh: McDuffie 48 run (Lollar kick), 1:07