The Longhorns (13-0) took advantage of some early Warner Robins turnovers and some big plays — an 80-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Rosendahl to Taylor Henkle in the second quarter, and a 98-yard kickoff return by Julian Burris in the third — to earn the win and move on to the semifinals.
“It was a total team effort, and that’s what it takes to win this time of the year,” Kell coach Derek Cook said.”
Where next week’s game with Creekside, another 13-0 power, is in question.
Neither school has a stadium large enough to fulfill the Georgia High School Association’s 4,000-seat minimum for the Class AAAAA semifinals. According to Cook, Kell’s stadium only seats an approximate 2,900.
Instead, a neutral site for the semifinal will be determined by GHSA officials Sunday at its headquarters in Thomaston. If the GHSA chooses to split the distance between Kell and its south Fulton opponent, two possible locations include Grady and Lakewood stadiums in Atlanta.
In Kell’s win over Warner Robins (11-2), Jay Moxey rushed for 105 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns, while Rosendahl was 9-of-14 passing for 200 yards.
The Longhorns scored after a long drive on the opening possession of the game, marching 16 plays before Cameron Massung kicked a 21-yard field goal with 5:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Warner Robins fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but recovered the ball on its own 18-yard line.
Kell, however, was more successful in forcing a turnover on the third play of the series, when Keith Hampton intercepted a pass by Warner Robins quarterback Caden Johnston and returned the ball to the Demons’ 36.
It then took Kell six plays to get in the end zone as Burris’ 6-yard touchdown run increased the Longhorns’ lead to 10-0 with 1:45 left.
Warner Robins went on a 16-play drive on the next series, but the Demons failed to do anything with it as Matt Monday missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt with 7:33 remaining in the half.
Kell struck again on the ensuing series. On third-and-10 at the Warner Robins 20, Rosendahl launched his scoring bomb to Henkle, who took it to the end zone to make it 17-0 with 6:31 left in the first half.
Warner Robins once again gave Kell a golden opportunity on the ensuing kickoff as the Longhorns recovered a fumble on the return, at the Demons’ 34 with 6:16 left in the first half.
Eight plays later, Moxey scored on a 2-yard run with 2:40 left in the half to boost the Longhorns’ advantage to 24-0.
“Obviously, the turnovers helped,” Cook said. “I felt like we were forcing those turnovers, and them not just handing them to us. We’re hitting people and knocking the ball way and getting underneath passes.”
After forcing Warner Robins to punt after the opening drive of the second half, Kell immediately went to work as Rosendahl’s 37-yard pass to Burris set up Moxey’s 5-yard touchdown run on the next play. That gave the Longhorns a 31-0 lead with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Warner Robins finally got on the scoreboard on the next series as Caden Johnston ran the ball 9 yards into the end zone on a quarterback keeper to cut Kell’s lead to 31-7 with 7:58 left.
The Demons’ momentum was short-lived, however, as Burris took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to push the Longhorns’ advantage back up to 38-7.
Warner Robins came up with a big play of its own on the next series as Johnston threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway to close the gap to 38-14.
But Kell controlled the ball for the rest of the third quarter as it went on a 19-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in Moxey’s 2-yard scoring run, which made it 45-14 with 11:57 remaining.
The Longhorns scored once more as Itabari Mason’s 9-yard touchdown increased their lead to 52-14 with 5:19 left.
Warner Robins did score two more times, with Danny Hite’s 29-yard run and Terry Harris’ 33-yard run closing the gap at the end.