HARTWELL, Ga. — Day two of the Lake Hartwell Gridiron Classic was supposed to feature five Anderson County teams, but the Westside Rams and T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets didn’t end up making the trip — Westside because of COVID-19 protocols and Hanna because of the lengthy weather delay during the first game, which pushed everything else back.
Of the three teams that did end up playing, Powdersville had the best day, beating Franklin County 19-15 in the game that was disrupted by lightning and rain. Trailing 15-13 with just 52 seconds remaining after a late Franklin County score, quarterback Eli Hudgins took the game into his own hands, breaking off a 70-yard touchdown run that proved to be the game winner.
“He had a good performance today,” head coach Robert Mustar said after the game. “That’s Eli Hudgins, he’s a competitor. I wouldn’t expect anything less out of him. He’s gonna find a way to win ball games for you.”
The rushing attack was effective for the Patriots on Saturday, whether it was Hudgins, who actually scored on 2 touchdown runs, or running back Thomas Williams, who scored the other touchdown and broke for some long runs of his own. Mustar said that will be a big part of the team’s success this season.
“We’ve got some talent back there,” Mustar said. “They’re gonna have to feed off of one another. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing and fine tune some things.”
Powdersville looks ready to host Broome next week in its regular season opener.
Pendleton and Palmetto, meanwhile, did not have similar success in their games in the jamboree, as neither team managed to get on the scoreboard. Pendleton lost 17-0 to Franklin County while Palmetto lost 21-0 to Madison County.
Pendleton head coach Grayson Howell said the team was missing multiple important players for various reasons, but he said the team needs to play better regardless. He called his team’s performance “pretty sloppy.”
One positive for the Bulldogs was that after allowing two quick touchdowns on the first two defensive drives, the defense never allowed Franklin County to find the end zone again and made a couple of big stops near the goal line.
“I think we just figured out we need to play better, we need to play harder,” Howell said. “Nobody wants to be down 21-0 in a half, so I think our guys just played with a different mindset through the rest of the half than they did in the first part.”
Palmetto, meanwhile, struggled to defend Franklin County’s triple-option offense, which head coach Doug Shaw said they never really see. The Mustangs have a lot of new starters on both sides of the ball, including a freshman quarterback Isaiah Hill, who saw his first game action on Saturday.
“He was a deer in the headlights there in the beginning,” Shaw said. “But he got this under his belt, and that’s gonna be a positive. Now he sees how fast it got from middle school football to high school football and varsity level.”
Both teams will look to make big improvements ahead of the regular season. Pendleton plays next week against Clinton, while Palmetto gets one more tune-up scrimmage against Crescent before taking on Seneca the following week.