Bolstered by a quick and efficient offensive start, and a rugged, resilient effort by its defense, the Sonoraville Phoenix gutted out a 14-10 win against the Adairsville Tigers on Pink Out night at the Furnace on Friday.
In what turned out to be tale of two radically different halves of football, the Sonoraville (3-4, 2-3 in Region 6-AAA) promptly put two scores on the board in the first quarter and built a swift lead that it wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the contest.
On its very first drive, the Phoenix marched down the field due to a handful of bruising runs by running back Tre Williams, an 11-yard strike from quarterback Cole Godfrey to wide receiver Ben Burns, and a 26-yard screen pass to running back Colton Richards. The unit capped off the drive with a well-designed shovel pass to Blade Bryant, who knifed through the defense for a 15-yard score.
After Sonoraville linebacker put his team in prime field position by recovering a fumble on Adairsville’s first play from scrimmage, the Richards responded by snagging another screen pass from Godfrey and exploding down the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.
“Our offense had a really great first half,” Sonoraville assistant head coach Chance Hicks said. “We executed extremely well on our three possessions. We want our identity to be a ball-control team, and I think that’s what we were able to establish on those scoring drives.”
The Tigers (3-5 1-4 in Region 6-AAA) would answer back in short order in the second quarter, with shifty running back Landon Ayers slicing through the secondary for a 29-yard touchdown to split the deficit in half.
Adairsville’s defense also tossed in a defensive highlight moments later, with Josh Brannan picking off a Godfrey offering on the one-yard line when the Phoenix were right on the doorstep of adding seven more. After Sonoraville’s stepped up near the goal line, the Tigers settled for a field goal seconds before the half to push the score to its final tally.
While the first half featured numerous electric offensive plays from both squads, the second half evolved into a gritty defensive battle after both coaching staffs made a few halftime adjustments.
For the Phoenix, Bryant snuffed out Adairsville’s most promising third quarter drive by intercepting a deep ball thrown by Mason Boswell. The Tigers turned right around and flipped the field when the defensive line forced Godfrey to cough up the ball, which was jumped on by Kyle Martin.
However, by far the most important and ultimately game-winning sequence for the Sonoraville defense came in the fourth quarter.
After a litany of unsportsmanlike penalties and a shanked punt placed the Tigers near the Sonoraville 10-yard yard line with its dynamic rushing attack, it seemed inevitable that the Phoenix were soon about to forfeit the lead. However, the defense held Adairsville scoreless on three carries before stonewalling Boswell at the one-yard line on fourth down for a crucial turnover on downs.
“We were put in some bad spots defensively, and they bowed up with their backs against the wall,” Hicks said. “We never doubted them, and they showed us why we have that confidence in them.”
The Phoenix were then able to ice away the rest of the clock with a few powerful runs from Case Collins, who finished with 59 rushing yards. Collins’ counterpart Williams rumbled for 74 total yards, and Godfrey ended the evening with 144 yards passing.
“We’re proud of these kids as a collective,” Hicks said. “There wasn’t a offense or defense tonight, it was the Phoenix. It was a complete team effort from start to finish, and I’m glad the we were able to come out on the winning end of one of these close games.”
Sonoraville will hit the road to face the LF-O Warriors next Friday, Oct. 19.