The Tigers (8-1, 4-1) sewed up the No. 2 seed in their sub-region with their Senior Night win and will play the No. 3 seed out of Region 7B-AA, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (4-5, 4-2), for a chance to advance to the state playoffs.
In such a low-scoring game, Adairsville coach Jim Kremer noted that it took all phases of the game to pull out the narrow victory.
"I think the difference was our offense not turning the ball over -- we had one turnover, I think they turned it over three or four times -- and then us playing field position with 'em, and our punt team [played well], Jake [Powell] doing a tremendous job pinning them down there late in the game," Kremer said. "I thought it was a total team effort offensively [and] defensively -- obviously when you get a shutout. Lot of kudos for the defense, and my defensive coaches just did an outstanding job."
Powell, the Tigers' senior punter, made life difficult for the Yellow Jackets all night. Rockmart twice began possessions from the shadow of its own end zone.
Though the edge in the kicking game went to Adairsville, both teams struggled to reach the end zone for close to 50 minutes. The Tigers scored the game's first points when running back Mike Upshaw dove in from two yards out with 2:03 remaining in the third quarter. Upshaw's run capped a seven-play, 63-yard drive that featured three first-down runs -- 21- and 10-yard runs from him and a 14-yarder from quarterback Cody Kremer.
Dakota Hines' extra point gave Adairsville a 7-0 lead that almost felt like a two-score advantage.
Rockmart responded with a seven-play, 42-yard drive that moved the ball to the Tigers' 18 but the Yellow Jackets elected for a toss to Kwame Peek on fourth-and-inches, and Adairsville's defense snuffed out the play to end the scoring threat.
The Tigers actually did make it a two-score game in the fourth quarter with its defense doing the final honors.
After Adairsville failed to score following a muffed punt by Rockmart in its own territory, Powell lined up for his fifth punt of the night and booted another beautiful punt, which went 31 yards before rolling out at the Yellow Jacket 5.
Seeming a bit uncomfortable so close to its own end zone, Rockmart began the drive with back-to-back penalties for too many men on the field and a false start. Now at their own 1, the Yellow Jackets tried to hand the ball to Jermonte Thompson a couple of times. Thompson lost yardage the first time before his second run set up third-and-15 from the goal line.
As Rockmart's Clayton Simon dropped back to pass, Tigers linebacker Austin Harrell leveled him instantly, bringing the quarterback to the turf about 5 yards in the end zone while the ball rolled out for a safety.
The Yellow Jackets got the ball back -- after Powell's punt hit the turf and died at the 1 -- but could not drive the requisite 99 yards for the score, getting to their 9-yard line before consecutive incompletions turned the ball over on downs, allowing Adairsville to kneel out the clock.
Afterward, the Tigers' third-year coach was effusive in his praise for his coaches and players.
"The whole staff and the whole kids, I give all the kids and all my staff the credit. We prepared hard," Jim Kremer said. "Rockmart had, certainly, some stallions and we never let 'em get out the gate."
Adairsville held Rockmart to less than 100 yards rushing on 34 carries and kept them to six first downs. Backup quarterback Bryant Middlebrooks led the Yellow Jackets with 49 yards on 12 carries before a tackle late in the third quarter sent him out of the game.
The Tigers were led on offense by Upshaw, who had 144 yards on 34 carries. Cody Kremer also proved to be a reliable option on the ground, gaining 49 yards on 13 carries, many of which were on fake handoffs.
With rain from Mother Nature making for a wet and soggy field at Tiger Stadium, both offenses were probably never going to light up the scoreboard, but fans may have expected more than the scoreless stalemate they got in the first half.
Adairsville and Rockmart traded nothing more than punts and fumbles early on, with each side recovering one miscue.
The Tigers' fumble recovery at their own 13, by Adairsville defensive back Cody Keim, killed the Yellow Jackets' best drive of the first half.
The Tigers missed out on three points when Dakota Hines pulled a 30-yard field goal attempt to the left as the half ended.
A couple of series before that, Adairsville had driven to the Rockmart 25, converting a fourth-and-1 from the Yellow Jackets' 40 before Upshaw's successive fourth-down carry came up inches short.
In the end, though, it was the Tigers who made all the plays in the second, which they have been doing much of the year. Now, Adairsville prepares for a region play-in game at LFO, which is in Catoosa County. LFO finished with the same sub-region record as Gordon Central (6-3, 4-2) but lost out on a head-to-head tiebreaker.
"We'll enjoy [this win] ... but we are so excited about representing our south sub-region as the No. 2 seed," Jim Kremer said. "I believe that's gonna put us against LFO. We'll have to go up there, but we got a great opportunity if we work hard this coming up week. We got a great opportunity to possibly make the playoffs."
Adairsville and LFO are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. this Friday.
SCORING BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 F
RCK 0 0 0 0 0
ADA 0 0 7 2 9
ADA -- Mike Upshaw 2-yd run (Dakota Hines kick), 2:03
ADA -- Austin Harrell safety, 3:59
First downs 6 12
Rushes-yds 34-98 51-190
Passing yds 20 16
Comp-Att-Int 2-8-0 2-10-0
Total yds 118 206
Penalties 6-34 7-45
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-1
Punts-yds 6-146 6-191
Rushing -- Rockmart: Bryant Middlebrooks 12-49, R.J. Garrett 3-27, Jermonte Thompson 10-13, Patrick Williams 1-8, Darius Holloman 4-3, Clayton 3-2, Kwame Peek 1-(-4); Adairsville: Mike Upshaw 34-144-1, Cody Kremer 13-49, Tristin 1-(-1), Trey Gulledge 3-(-2).
Passing -- Rockmart: Simon 2-8-20; Adairsville: Kremer 2-9-16, Gulledge 0-1-0.
Receiving -- Rockmart: Tay Twine 1-12, Peek 1-8; Adairsville: Christian Howell 2-16.