With the fourth playoff seed in Region 7-AA up for grabs, the Gordon Central Warriors ran out of steam despite a prosperous start, and fell victim to the playmaking prowess of the Coosa offensive personnel in a 37-14 defeat. Even though the Warriors fell short of the postseason, the loss marks the end of another regular season of growth and development for a team undergoing a program-wide culture change.
Despite the final tally on the scoreboard, it was the Gordon Central (3-7, 2-5 in Region 7-AA) offense that appeared decisive and explosive out of the gate by feeding do-it-all running back Nelson Gravitt. Gravitt rumbled his way for 44 yards on seven opening drive carries, punching in a one-yard touchdown to cap off the possession and hand the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
Coosa (4-6, 4-3 in Region 7-AA) was swift in its answer, shortening the scoring gap with a 23-yard field goal on its first possession. However, what proved to be one of the crucial turning points in the game occurred on the Warriors’ next drive, as Gravitt suffered a serious collarbone injury on his 12th rushing attempt on the evening in the second quarter that ruled him out for the remainder of the game.
Missing Gravitt, the engine that often sparks the team and who was averaging nearly seven yards per carry before his departure, the Warrior offense failed to completely compensate for his missing production. From that point forward, it was Coosa offense that began clicking.
After a failed fake punt attempt, the Eagles cashed in when quarterback Kenon Dixon sliced straight through the Gordon Central defense for a 21-yard rushing score to give his team a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.
“I just want to give credit to Coosa, because they executed and played a tremendous ball game,” Gordon Central head coach Cory Nix said. “But I’m proud of my kids, and this is a pressure-packed crucial Game 10 that I’m happy my young team got to experience. We had to try and overcome a lot of adversity with that injury to Gravitt, but I’m proud of the way they fought all night long.”
Coosa carried its offensive momentum into the second half, with Malaki Martin snagging a pass from that Dixon that was tipped several times for a 33-yard, highlight-worthy, circus catch in the back of the endzone in the third quarter.
The Warriors showed some life later in the third, as quarterback Clayton Hogue hit Dawson Lackey on a quick slant, with Lackey breaking a tackle and sprinting 58 yards for a touchdown.
However, the Eagles quickly stifled the rally, with Dixon returning the ensuing kickoff over 85 yards for a score. Coosa would tack on two more touchdowns in the form of a 71-yard scoring run by Dixon and a one-yard receiving touchdown in the closing seconds of the final quarter as Dixon connected with Logan Pledger.
In Gravitt’s absence, Jordan Jacques led the charge on the ground with 43 yards, with John Victor Rainwater and Alec Morris chipping in some key runs late. For Coosa, Dixon amassed over 155 yards on the ground, while passing for over 90 yards.
Even though it didn’t end on an ideal note, Friday also represented Senior Night for the Warriors, which Nix meant that a special group had played its final snaps for the program. However, Nix added that the future remains bright for the program heading into next season.
“We are losing 15 special seniors that have bought into the program, and they will be missed as leaders and will always be considered family,” Nix said. “But the sky's the limit for this team. We have so much talent coming back, and now we need to take time to take a step back, evaluate what we have and get back to work in order to experience even more success next season.”