Nov. 18—MOULTRIE — When Travis Smith caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Sean Smith to bring Westlake to within five points of Colquitt County with just under six minutes left in the third quarter of their second-round state playoff game on Friday, there seem to be a hint of concern permeating The Hawg Pen.
But the Lions never scored again, the Packers added two fourth-quarter touchdowns and that 24-19 lead blossomed into a 38-19 victory that sends Colquitt County to a quarterfinal meeting at Milton next Friday.
The Eagles eliminated Collins Hill 42-21 on Friday and after having won GHSA's coin toss, they will remain at home to meet the 12-0 Packers.
Obviously, he would have liked his team to play a 10th time on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium this season, but Packers coach Sean Calhoun stated the obvious, "It is what it is. You can't control that. And you know you can't win a state championship without winning on the road."
And Milton will take a 10-2 record, a seven-game winning streak and several highly recruited athletes into the quarterfinal fray against the Packers.
But Westlake prepared Colquitt for the high-flying Eagles by testing the Packers, who won for the 25th time over the last two seasons.
The Lions demolished Marietta the week before, but never led the game on Friday and could not build on the Smith-to-Smith third-quarter touchdown pass.
And it appears some of the community's mild anxiety over the health of Neko Fann was unfounded.
The senior quarterback was not as sharp as usual after missing the second half of the win over Parkview the previous Friday with a hamstring injury that he diligently rehabbed over the last seven days.
But he was good enough to complete 10-for-22 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a dart to Zay Williams in the end zone with 10:53 left that made it a three-score game.
The Williams score came just 50 seconds after Ramsey Dennis had bolted 39 yards for a touchdown that put the Packers up 31-19.
And the Colquitt defense did the rest, holding the Lions scoreless over the final 18 minutes.
"That's a huge win," Packers coach Sean Calhoun said. "We are not 100 percent, but our kids fought and gave everything they had."
And, he added about Westlake, "That is not a second-round team. That is a quarterfinal or semifinal team. They are very good."
The Packers scored first when Fann spied Williams all alone far beyond the Westlake secondary and his first completion of the game resulted in a 75-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Colquitt had a first-and-goal at the Lions 10 on its next possession after a 25-yard completion from Fann to Ny Carr.
But a bad snap resulted in a 13-yard loss and the Packers ultimately settled for a 36-yard Brett Fitzgerald field goal and a 10-0 lead with 3:00 left in the first quarter.
Westlake drove 80 yards in 10 plays after the kickoff to score on a 5-yard run by Miles Davis.
Colquitt blocked the extra point attempt and held a 10-6 lead with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
Colquitt took advantage of a 22-yard Westlake punt and drove 27 yards to a 3-yard touchdown run by Ramsey Dennis to extend the Packers lead to 17-6 early in the second quarter.
The score was set up by a remarkable catch by Carr of Fann pass that he appeared to catch, lose to the defensive back and then regain possession of for a 24-yard gain.
Fitzgerald's conversion after the Dennis score was the 172nd of this career, enabling his to break the previous Packer record of 171 extra points held by brother Ryan Fitzgerald, now kicking at Florida State.
Colquitt's Ka'Marian Williams picked off his fourth pass of the season with 6:01 left in the half and the Packers drove 68 yards to score on a 1-yard run by Day'Shawn Brown.
Fann had a couple of key competitions in the drive, which also included a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Westlake.
But the 24-6 lead was not able to survive the final 3:02.
Westlake drove 80 yards in just nine plays, with Sean Smith completing his first scoring pass to Travis Smith from 27 yards out with 18 seconds left.
The Packers again blocked the extra point and their lead was 24-12 at the half.
The Lions and Packers exchanged punts in the first two possessions of the second half before Travis Smith caught his second touchdown pass on the ninth of his 11 pass receptions.
But Sean Smith misfired on his next seven passes while the Packers were pulling away on Dennis's long run and Williams's second touchdown catch.
That final Packers touchdown came on the first play after Amari Wilson blocked a Westlake quick kick with 10:59 left in the game.
Sean Smith completed 19-of-36 passes for Westlake for 265 yards and the two scoring tosses.
Travis Smith's 11 receptions went for 198 yards.
But the Packers never let the Westlake ground game get traction.
The Lions rushed the ball 39 times, but for just 122 yards.
The Packers found the Westlake defensive seven difficult as well, at least until Dennis's 39-yard burst helped put the game away.
The Packers ran the ball 35 times for 217 yards, with Dennis getting 105 of them. Day'Shawn Brown carried 13 times for 65 yards.
Williams had three catches for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Carr had three for 56 yards.
The Packers rolled up 407 yards of offense.
"We had a third-quarter lull and we hadn't had one of those for a while," Calhoun said. "But we dominated the fourth quarter.
"And I thought after what he had to go through, Neko did a pretty good job. He is a warrior. I've got to give a shout-out to our medical staff. What they did this week and what they are continuing to do is why he was able to play tonight."
Also on Friday, Valdosta was eliminated by Carrollton, which will play Walton in one quarterfinal next Friday.
Surprising Camden County, the No. 3 team from Region 1, had shouldered its was in to the final eight, blanking McEachern 26-0 on the road.
Camden will travel again next Friday to play No. 1-ranked Mill Creek.
Buford and Grayson also advanced and will meet next Friday at Grayson.