Tanner Bailey Returns, Leads Gordo to First-Round Win
Six weeks after having a plate and 13 screws inserted to help heal a broken collarbone, Gordo quarterback Tanner Bailey returned on Thursday night to lead the Greenwave to a 41-12 win over Brooks in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“Growing up playing every sport there is, you’re just always competing,” Bailey said. “Six weeks is a little too long, so I’m glad I got to be out there with guys [I] grew up with, so it was awesome.”
The junior quarterback completed his first seven passes for 97 yards, but his best throw of the night came in the final minute before halftime. While rolling to his right on third-and-17, he launched the ball to senior wide receiver J.T. Billups in the back-right corner of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown to put Gordo up 27-6.
Bailey finished the game 15 of 18 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, adding a second one to senior Izayah Edwards in the third quarter. Edwards also had a rushing touchdown.
“We get to see [Bailey] throw it every single day,” Gordo coach Ryan Lolley said. “He blows your mind every single day, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it’s pretty special to see for him [to go] down to him coming back and playing like he played.”
Gordo took an early 6-0 lead on a 3-yard touchdown by sophomore running back Rayshawn Williams, capping a 15-play, 7-minute drive. Brooks responded with a long touchdown drive of its own, but the Greenwave needed just three plays to regain a 12-6 lead on another Williams score.
Late in the second quarter, Brooks was threatening to tie the game or take the lead, but on the 13th play of the drive, Gordo senior defensive back Hunter Oglen undercut the route and returned the interception 90 yards for a touchdown and a potential 14-point swing.
“We watched film,” said Oglen, who announced his commitment to Tennessee State on Wednesday. “When they tighten down and bring 5 and 2 together right there, they’re always gonna bring one on the out [route] and they’re gonna run one on the post. I told myself all I gotta do is just sit there, take my read and then just let everything happen in front of me. Then when I saw the quarterback throw right there, I knew it was time to go get the ball.”
Brooks quarterback Kyler Murks was easily the centerpiece of the Lions’ offense, as he either threw or carried the ball on their first 48 plays. He distributed the ball to his receivers on the outside, going 21 of 34 for 169 yards, and he evaded Greenwave defenders on scrambles and draw plays, carrying the ball 21 times for 88 yards.
He was kept mostly in check, but Brooks ended the game with a 99-yard drive that lasted more than 9 minutes and spanned 18 plays.
“He’s an athlete. He’s as good as advertised, just like we thought he would be,” Lolley said. “After we started [playing zone], they really didn’t do anything until late on that last drive. … Late in the game, we got a little messy. We want to finish the right way.”
Gordo (10-1) advances to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs, where it will play the winner of Friday’s matchup between Oneonta and Madison County.