The Tigers, who are expected to field another playoff team, didn’t disappoint as they opened with a lengthy drive and took the first lead of the evening. They engineered several other lengthy drives — both by ground and through the air — and turned opportunistic on defense late in the contest while playing catchup. The Tigers also had a 61-yard touchdown run to the end zone negated by a penalty flag and several long gainers called back, as did the Colonels.
Several runners exploded downfield for the Colonels, suggesting a potent ground game to balance their passing attack.
New Cass head coach Bobby Hughes said he was impressed with the level of play and the attitude of both teams.
“That was two good football teams getting after it and doing it the way it’s supposed to be done,” Hughes said. “We both played hard. A bunch of good plays were made and a bunch of mistakes were made, but that’s the purpose of the scrimmage. I was proud of our kids’ effort and the way they bounced back after that first drive.”
Eric Bishop, Tigers head coach, said he was generally satisfied with the performance and believes it will help coaches better prepare for the regular season.
“We came in more focused on us than we did our opponent unlike in most game weeks for the simple fact that we wanted to pay attention to what we were doing, were we doing the things to the best of our ability on offense and defense and the two special teams that we worked,” Bishop said. “Obviously the first drive was pretty impressive.”
Adairsville used 12 plays to roll from their 25 to score behind 10 running and two passing plays.
The drive was capped by a 20-yard run by Sidnee Johnson. A 15-yard pass from Sam Seaman to Tony Hale early in the drive and a second with the Tigers facing second and long also helped the Tigers’ cause.
The Colonels answered that score just over two minutes into the second quarter when Chris Morton circled left on the fourth of a four-play drive to score on a 15-yard run. Cass went for two points when the Tigers were flagged on the PAT with Keelyn Wilkey doing the honors. The play gave Cass an 8-7 lead with 9:57 left until half time.
The Colonels carried that slim lead into intermission and then added to it when Laizon West ran in for a touchdown from a yard out. His score capped a six-play drive that started at the Colonels’ 45-yard line, where they started after an Adairsville punt.
Pablo Delores made the score 15-7 with the PAT with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
Cass scored its final touchdown of the night after taking over the ball at its own 29 following an Adairsville punt. The Colonels took six plays, highlighted by a 21-yard pass from Evan Hinton to Edvonte Curtis to move to the Tigers’ 21-yard line. Hinton went to that same well again moments later, hitting Curtis over his left shoulder in stride diving into end zone, and Cass lead 22-7 after Delores made his second PAT of the evening with less than a second remaining in the third quarter.
Adairsville struck back at the 5:44 mark of the final quarter when Shane Darley scored after a 20-yard run. That play followed a 30-yard run by Tyler Riley that had advanced the ball to the Cass 20.
Josh Honea made the PAT for the Tigers, who closed to 22-14 on the play.
Adairsville scored the next series when Hughes Reed intercepted a Cass pass near the 17 and closed the score to 22-20 with 4:13 left. A PAT by C.J. Jackson closed the scoring at 22-21.
The Colonels took longer to get traction, but Hughes said that was expected. “When you are learning to play together, you have to learn to jell and play together,” he said.
He said the Colonels running corps also showed some promise.
“We have a bunch of young kids that have some potential,” he said. “They have to continue to grow.”
He also was pleased with the work by Hinton. “He did a really good job. We think Evan’s got a big upside. He’s going to continue to grow and learn how to do things. Tonight was a really good experience for him.”
Bishop said the scrimmage will be used as a learning experience.
“As I told the team, we got a little fatigued. We lost focus. We started making some mental mistakes that cost us on certain downs and distances,” he said. “We’ll look to address those things offensively and hopefully they’ll be corrected and we’ll reduce or minimize any of those mental mistakes that end up costing us tonight for next week’s ballgame.
“Defensively I’m very pleased with where we’re at without having looked at the film. We changed some things we do defensively. I’m tickled to death with the way that group of kids has responded to the change and really playing fast and playing hard.
“Punting-wise, we know we have our work cut out for us. We graduated three very good kickers. We’ve got some growing pains to go through there, but the kids are practicing hard and competing with one another. We ran two field goal units out there and two punt return teams so a lot of kids were getting a lot of experience, especially there in the third quarter where we played and moved kids around into secondary positions trying to build as much depth as we can.
“I’m probably going to take a lot of flack on not going for two on the pick-six but it wasn’t about that. It was about kids getting experience. Tonight it was about building depth and finding out who can do what for us and, hopefully, put us in the best situation to be successful in the next 10 games, the ones that count.”