“I’m proud of our kids,” Tracy said. “I’m not going to let one game define our season. We went 7-0 in the regular season and to do that in this league is a tough feat. There are no weak teams in this association, we are proud to be in this league. Tonight we played good at times, we just waited too late to charge back.”
Playing in the Floyd County Association Middle School football championship game, the Bulldogs lost to the Pepperell Dragons at Cedartown Memorial Stadium on Doc Ayers Field.
The championship win was extra sweet for the Dragons, as they had lost to Cedartown 18-12 in double overtime on Sept. 25.
“It’s great,” head coach Joey Shiflett said after the win. “We dedicated our entire year to winning it, that was our goal and for these kids to set a goal and accomplish it is special. It’s been about four years since Pepperell has won one of these, so I’m proud of our team for winning it.”
Cedartown had entered the game undefeated at 7-0, but the Dragons were able to steal the momentum early and they rode that to a 28-6 lead.
The Dragons forced Cedartown to a three-and-out to open the game. A bad snap on the punt set the Dragons up only 38 yards from the end zone. Pepperell wasted little time in getting there, scoring when Gage Davis ran in from two yards out.
Cedartown responded with a six-play, 65-yard drive that was capped when quarterback Lee Sisson scrambled in from 12 yards out. However, Pepperell recaptured the momentum on the ensuing kickoff as Davis scooped up the ball and sprinted 83 yards to the end zone. The conversion failed, but Pepperell held a 12-6 lead with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Both teams played with a lot of heart,” Shiflett said. “It was a full team effort for us. Our running back went down and another one stepped up. We had players get hurt and others step up.”
Neither team would score again until the Dragons used a 47-yard touchdown run by Davis to stretch their lead to 18-6. Davis ran in the two-point conversion to give Pepperell a 20-6 lead with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
“We found a hole in their defense and they just never really adjusted to it,” Shiflett said. “We kept pounding it and found a weakness.”
Pepperell added a fourth quarter score when Tae Hammond darted in from 37-yards out. Hammond ran in the two-point try to give the Dragons a commanding 28-6 lead.
However, the Bulldogs started to rally back.
Using a 15-yard run by Sisson and a 13-yard run by Tyler Blalock, Cedartown’s offense got some momentum going. They then scored on a 18-yard pass from Sisson to Blalock to cut Pepperell’s lead to 28-12.
Cedartown successfully executed an onside kick and then scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sisson to Darion Blue. The conversion failed, but Cedartown was down now only 28-18 with 3:25 left in the game.
Cedartown attempted another onside kick, and Pepperell would fumble that try as well but would recover their own fumble.
The Dragons then ran two minutes and 12 seconds off the clock before punting the ball back to Cedartown. The Bulldogs drove down to the six-yard line, but a sack ended the game and allowed Pepperell to exact revenge.
“They (Cedartown) didn’t quit,” Shiflett said. “That’s a testament to their staff. They play with a lot of heart. Coach Tracy and his staff does a good job.”
Sisson completed eight of 11 passes for 114 yards and two scores for the young Bulldogs. He also ran the ball eight times for 35 yards.
Blue had four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown while Trevon Wofford hauled in three passes for 35 yards. Blalock, who had a 18-yard touchdown reception, ran for 71 yards on 13 carries.
Quan Neal picked up 25 yards on four carries and Walker Barrow added five yards on four tries.