As a result, even when Cass jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first half, the coaches knew the game would come down to the wire.
Adairsville managed to storm back into the game with two unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter, but was unable to pull off the comeback as the Tigers fell to the Colonels by a score of 27-14 Friday night at Cass High.
“We knew it was going to be a hard fought battle,” Cass coach Rick Casko said. “There were some ups and downs in the game. The emotion changed a little bit there, which is a credit to Adairsville.”
Cass jumped out to a 13-0 lead at halftime thanks to two Keelyn Wilkey touchdown runs inside the five-yard line. The Colonels racked up 148 yards on the ground in the first half, partially due to their size advantage up front.
“You can’t say anything but good things about Cass,” Adairsville coach Eric Bishop said. “Golly, they brought it to us and they brought it to us all night. I’ve said for two weeks they have a great combination of size and speed.”
Offensively, Adairsville could not get much going in the first half. The Tigers had just 47 total yards in the half compared to 206 for the Colonels.
“They were getting so much penetration there in the first half,” Bishop said of Cass. “That’s what they do. They were getting into our backfield and we couldn’t get anything going.”
Cass would score again early in the second half on a field goal and head into the fourth quarter leading by 16.
However, Adairsville stepped up its game in the final quarter as the Tigers scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to begin the final period.
Quarterback Marcus Childers found Blaine Bishop for a 7-yard score after a roughing the passer penalty on Cass.
The Colonels had 10 penalties on the game.
“Those penalties really hurt us.” Casko said. “We had a few mistakes. We actually left some points out there. We have to learn from them and get better from them.”
Adairsville forced Cass to punt after the ensuing drive, leaving the Tigers with a little over eight minutes to come back from a 16-6 deficit. The Tigers only needed four minutes to score a touchdown on a two-yard run up the middle by Tristin Smith. Austin Harris scored on the two-point conversion attempt to make the score 16-14 with over four minutes remaining.
Once again, Adairsville’s defense would stop Cass on the next possession and get the ball back with 3:16 left on the game clock.
“I’m proud of our defense,” Bishop said. “They only gave up one touchdown after the half. We played great defense against a very good football team.”
The Tigers would start their drive at their own 16-yard line, but after one first down, Childers was picked off by Lakel Scott of Cass. Two plays later, Wilkey scored his third touchdown on a run from 21 yards out to seal the game.
“I’m happy for our kids. It’s good to get this one under our belts,” Casko said. “It was a great game. High intensity. Both teams played hard and we were put in some tough spots and were able to bounce back.”
“I’m proud of our guys. They played down to the last snap,” Bishop said. “I told them at halftime, maybe if we could get them on the ropes we could win it late. And we almost did, but turnovers always cost you.”
In addition to Wilkey’s three scores, he also ran for 128 yards on 21 carries.
“He is a very good runner and athlete,” Casko said. “You’re going to hear more about him.”
Trevor Lowe, Cass’ freshman quarterback threw for 81 yards with one interception in the game.
“He’s a young quarterback, but I thought he did a good job. It’s a big game. He’s only going to get better,” Casko said.
Cass will take on Cartersville next week, while Adairsville will look to pick up its first win against Armuchee.