Pickens County’s Shannon Brooks hauled in Cass’ fifth turnover at his team’s 1-yard line, and the Dragons ran out the clock for a 28-26 win.
After watching his team rally from a 21-point deficit, Colonels coach Rick Casko had no question as to what hampered his team in its bid for a fourth straight win.
“Mistakes lost us the game. A number of them we’re not caused mistakes,” Casko said. “I thought our defense played extremely well and caused fumbles and got us back in the game. [We] did a great job hitting ’em and causing fumbles and popping ’em out of there and creating turnovers — even some others we didn’t get where we caused the ball to come loose.”
The Cass defense pitched a shutout in the second half, and the offense twice had the ball inside the Pickens’ 25 following fumbles — including one forced by the Colonels’ punt unit.
However, those two possessions ended in turnovers on down. Keelyn Wilkey got stopped for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal from the 2, and quarterback Brandon Etheridge located Kelin Wells late on a throwback screen and then threw well short of his intended target, who appeared to have some running room on the fourth-and-goal play from the Dragon 12.
“We didn’t execute when we needed to execute,” Casko said in reference to his offense’s struggles.
The news was not all bad for Cass as it followed its scoreless third quarter by making clutch plays to get back into the game.
Wells returned a Pickens punt 46 yards to the 13-yard line, giving the Colonels a rather short field to work with in the fourth.
Despite faltering on its previous two red zone possessions, Cass broke through this time around, calling designed runs on six of their seven plays. One run, on fourth-and-2, required a measurement after Wilkey picked up 2 yards down to the 3.
With a fresh set of downs, Etheridge faked an inside handoff and found the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion failed as the Colonels trailed 28-19 with 7:47 left to play.
Less than 20 seconds later, Cass had a chance to cut into the lead even further following a fumble recovery at the Dragons’ 31.
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