Cameron O'Neal (2) of Model High School drops back for a pass at Woodard-Tuggle Stadium on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (Paul Halfacre/RN-T)

Chattooga @ Model High Football

Model’s defense rose to the occasion Friday night clamping down on the Chattooga Indians’ offense while taking advantage of some mistakes to grab their first Region 7-AA win of the season 15-7 at Model.

A week after scoring 27 points against Sonoraville, the Blue Devils’ offense found the going a bit tough against Chattooga’s defense.

On the first possession of the game, Chattooga went three and out but a high snap on the punt and a partial block left the Blue Devils in great field position at the Indians’ 19-yard line.

Two plays later, quarterback Cameron O’Neal hit freshman Chris Dublin for a 16-yard touchdown pass, and the Blue Devils took the 6-0 lead.

The six points would be the only scoring of the first half, but each team had some chances.

Chattooga’s defense came up big early in the second quarter after the Blue Devils drove inside the 10-yard line.

The Indians stuffed two Blue Devils’ running plays from the one-yard line on third down and then on fourth down, forcing a turnover on downs.

“My hats off to Chattooga, “ Model coach Gordon Power said. “They played a real physical game up front. The sledding was a little harder. They kept us from having any big (offensive) plays. They held us tonight, but we also have to cut out the mental mistakes.”

The Indians’ offense showed signs of life after the goal-line stand, driving to midfield before their drive stalled, but not before they had run a slew of plays and taken almost eight minutes off the clock.

Chattooga got the ball back late in the second half, but Model forced a three and out and then blocked another punt.

The Devils weren’t able to capitalize on the good field position this time as Model missed a 37-yard field goal attempt.

Another bad snap on a punt forced Chattooga’s kicker to boot the ball out of the end zone for a safety early in the third quarter, giving Model an 8-0 lead.

“Our defense really won the game for us,” Powers said. “The defense was prepared, and the defense came to play. You’ve got to have that when the offense isn’t doing a whole lot.

“Hopefully, the offense owes the defense one now in weeks to come,” he said.

Model’s offense finally managed to find a way to crack Chattooga’s defense midway through the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth-down situation, Dublin converted a big first-down run and then finished the drive off with a four-yard touchdown. After the extra point, Model led 15-0.

The Indians’ offense mounted its own charge late in the fourth as quarterback Isaac Foster connected on a few pass plays and had two key runs, driving the Indians close to the goal line.

With time running out, Foster managed to connect with a diving Garrett Salmon in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, cutting Model’s lead to 15-7 with six seconds remaining.

Model fielded the Indians’ onside kick attempt and ran out the clock for the victory.

“We had a lot of miscues everywhere tonight. The want to is not the question, it’s the execution,” Chattooga coach Clay Livingston said.

“We’ve got to stop making so many mistakes. We had too many penalties.

We’ve just got to keep working and fix our mistakes. Hopefully, we’ll do better next week.”

Chattooga (0-4, 0-1) travels to play Murray County next week, while Model (3-1, 1-0) plays host to region and Floyd County rival Armuchee.

“I told the team (after the game) that it’s been a long time since you could mention Model football and three and one in the same sentence,” Powers said. “I’m proud of them. I told them to enjoy the win and get ready to go to work next week.”

Jim Alred is New Media Director for News Publishing Company.​