Finishing out the regular season on the road, the Pepperell football team guaranteed itself a return to Dragon Stadium for the Class AA state playoffs.
In a rematch of last year’s regular-season finale, the Dragons were victorious this time, taking down Chattooga 29-12 to wrap up the No. 2 seed in Region 7-AA. In last year’s matchup, the Indians won 19-7 against Pepperell, forcing the Dragons on the road for the first round.
After trailing 26-0 at halftime Friday, the Indians (5-5, 4-3 7-AA) switched things up in the second half using a wildcat offense with Lashaun Lester taking the majority of the snaps.
The tactic worked to a point with the Indians avoiding the shutout with a touchdown each in the third and fourth quarters.
A fourth-quarter field goal by Ryan Hurst were the only points scored by the Dragons in the second half, but they were able to hold off Chattooga for the win.
The Dragons (8-2, 6-1) will now face defending state champion Heard County next Friday in Lindale. The No. 3-seeded Braves came up short 17-16 Friday against Bremen.
Chattooga, as the No. 4 seed, will be on the road against Callaway, the top team out of Region 5-AA.
Gordon Central 21, Coosa 14
Gordon Central withstood a furious Coosa rally in the final quarter to end their season with a 21-14 win at Eagle Stadium on Friday night.
The win marks the first time since 2012 the Warriors have gotten at least three region victories in a season, but it didn’t happen without some late-game fireworks.
Up 21-0 heading into the final frame, Gordon Central (3-7, 3-4 7-AA) coughed up the ball three times in the span of seven minutes to give Coosa life. The Eagles took advantage on two of those turnovers, scoring first on a 72-yard throw and catch from Hayden McBurnett to Terry Curry, and later on a Curry passing score to Caleb Nichols.
With a minute and a half to play and down 21-14, Coosa (1-9, 1-6) recovered an onside kick that was placed beautifully by Jose Valerio, but subsequently turned it over on downs to effectively seal the game.
“Their heart put them over the top,” Gordon Central head coach T.J. Hamilton said of his team. “Our guys wanted it, and they finished strong.”
The game’s opening possession saw the Warriors put together a methodical 89-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard Nelson Gravitt touchdown run.
Later in the first quarter, after a McBurnett pass was picked off by Gordon Central’s Issac Dye, Edwin Herrera punched it in from 1 yard out to give the visitors a two-score lead.
From there, Coosa’s defense did their best to keep the Eagles in the ballgame, recovering two fumbles in the second quarter on consecutive drives. However, two goal-line interceptions from McBurnett on the ensuing possessions kept the home team scoreless.
Gordon Central scored its third touchdown of the night in the waning moments of the third quarter, when Peyton Parker took a fake punt 48 yards for what proved to be a pivotal score.
Coosa head coach Todd Wheeler said that while he was disappointed with the end result, he was pleased with how his team fought and sent out a valued senior class.
“I think the future is bright,” Wheeler said. “I think our kids proved that they were resilient and they battled. I was pleased with their efforts, and we’ve just got to grow and mature in the future.”
Dade County 35, Armuchee 6
Armuchee jumped out to an early lead against Dade County on Friday night, but the Wolverines used a big second quarter to roll to a 35-6 Region 7-AA win against the Indians at Lindsey Stadium in the season finale for both squads.
Gauge Burkett scored from 9 yards out within the first four minutes of the game giving the Indians a 6-0 lead after the blocked extra-point attempt, however. The Wolverines then scored 21 points in the second quarter to take a 21-6 lead into halftime. Dade County added 14 points in the third quarter to secure the win.
For Armuchee (0-10, 0-7 7-AA), Burkett rushed for 157 yards on 26 carries.
Josh Williams led Dade County (2-8, 2-5) with 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 24 carries, while Makinley Everett went 8-of-11 for 169 yards passing and three touchdowns.