Moore scores 3 TDs, Colonels defeat Tigers for 1st win since 2016

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For most programs, preseason scrimmages don't mean much. The outcomes don't count in the standings and the score isn't even officially kept.

But that wasn't the case for Cass' football team.

Beating Pepperell 6-3 on Aug. 10 changed everything for a program coming off a winless season. That game won't reflect on the team's final record.

Friday night's 19-10 triumph over Adairsville sure will, though.

Cass' victory over its county rival opened the regular season on the best possible note, and it gives the Colonels their first win since defeating Hiram, 14-12, on Sept. 16, 2016, breaking a streak of 16 consecutive losses.

"It's a great win for our program and these kids, because they've never given up on what we're trying to do," Cass coach Bobby Hughes said. "They've been rewarded for it.

"[Adairsville] coach [Eric] Bishop did a great job. That's a fine coached team, and they played hard. He's a great guy."

The programs played in this same spot on the schedule in 2017 — first game for the Colonels and second for the Tigers. It set the tone for both teams that season, as Adairsville pulled off a 29-15 result.

History looked set to repeat itself in the opening minutes Friday.

With senior Mason Boswell limited to one defensive series due to an ankle injury, Adairsville (1-1) started junior Derrick Simmons at quarterback.

"Obviously, you want to win every game, but we have to look at the big picture of the region schedule," Bishop said. "Holding Mason out with an open week next week was probably the right thing to do to try to get him back to 100 percent."

Simmons, who finished with 145 passing yards, swiftly led the Tigers down the field for a touchdown.

He completed a 46-yard pass to Savaun Henderson on the drive before Malachi Gardner hauled in a 26-yard touchdown with barely three minutes gone. Chris Rodriguez's extra point put Cass (1-0) in a quick 7-0 hole.

It would be the only touchdown the Colonels allowed on the night.

With Cass playing a prevent defense, Simmons led a nice 2-minute drive to close the first half. Adairsville, though, had to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Rodriguez as the second quarter expired.

It would be the final points the Colonels allowed on the night.

"That's as good a defense as we'll probably see, barring Calhoun," Bishop said.

The tough defense shouldn't be too surprising. Even during the struggles last season, Cass' defense often kept the Colonels in games.

However, the offense always managed to stall at inopportune times. That wasn't the case Friday, as senior quarterback Rett Moore made sure to keep drives alive.

"I thought Rett had the best game of his career," Hughes said.

It's hard to argue with that.

Moore snuck in from a yard out on the Colonels' second possession, but the point-after try hit the upright to keep the Tigers ahead, 7-6. He scored easily on a 5-yard run almost five minutes into the second quarter, but the 2-point conversion attempt was snuffed out, keeping the Cass lead at 12-7.

Leading 12-10, Moore burrowed in for another 1-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter. Kaleb Speights' PAT made it a two-score game, and Adairsville never truly threatened the Cass defense in the final period.

Overall, Moore rushed for 72 yards and trio of touchdowns. But he was even more impressive throwing the ball, completing 10 of 13 attempts, including all eight after halftime, for 139 yards.

"It's great just to see all the hard work that this program, the coaches and the players have put into it finally pay off ... it just feels great," Moore said. "I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders against Pepperell and even more [now] that it counted and even better against a crosstown rival."

Moore's go-to receiver, Jacquez Fountain had a quiet first half and a monster second half. He had seven catches for 121 yards total after a single 10-yard reception across the first two quarters.

Sophomore Zay Jackson proved to be a game-breaker in the running game with 94 yards on 11 carries.

But Moore always had the ball in his hands when it mattered most. His ability to find pay dirt behind a solid offensive line proved to be the difference for the Colonels, who even settled for two field goals against Pepperell.

"Goal-line set was good for us, we managed it well," Hughes said. "We've got things we still can build on, but we definitely got things moving in the right direction. We'll get back in here Sunday with film, and we'll meet and get ready to go again."

Moving forward, don't expect Cass to suffer a letdown after such an emotional win with Forsyth Central on the docket for next Friday.

"We've got to come back out and go right back at it," Moore said. "Just as simple as that."