By EDDY GIFFORD
The Dade County Wolverine football team traveled to Lindale Friday night to face the Pepperell Dragons in a key region game with playoff implications on the line.
Dade County started region play with a 0-2 record, dropping hard fought games against Darlington 22-28 and Trion 21-28. In both games, the Wolverines had chances to win but just came up short.
Since that Trion game, they had picked up wins over Coosa 42-7 and Chattooga 42-7 to even their region mark at 2-2 heading into the Pepperell game where the Dragons also are 2-2 in region play.
With two region games remaining, they needed a win over Armuchee in the final game of the regular season for a playoff spot but a win over the Dragons also would possibly give them second place in region and a host spot in the playoffs.
The Wolverines won the toss and chose to kick to the Dragons to start the game. They surprised the Dragons with a squib kick and recovered the ball at Pepperell’s 38-yard line.
From there, they moved the ball down field and with 8:18 remaining in the first quarter Braydon Sullivan scored the first points of the game on a two-yard run. The Caroline Tremmier kick was good, and the Wolverines took the lead 7-0.
The Dragons quickly answered the Wolverine with a score of their own when they scored on a three-yard run with 5:29 remaining in the first quarter. The two-point conversion was good, and the Dragons took the lead 8-7.
On Dade’s next possession, they marched down the field and Bryson Shrader scored on a 10-yard run and the Abigale Tremmier kick put the Wolverines on top 14-8.
Dade’s defense stopped the Dragons on their next drive and the first quarter ended with the Wolverines on top 14-8.
On the first play of the second quarter, a Pepperell punt was downed at the Wolverine two-yard line. The Dragon defense stopped Dade and forced a punt from their own end zone.
The Dragons got the ball at the Wolverine 24-yard line, but Dade’s defense dug in and held on downs and took over at the 22-yard line with 8:25 remaining in the first half.\
The Wolverines put together another impressive drive, and with 4:29 remaining in the first half, Landon Williams bulled his way into the end zone and the Wolverines were up 20-8. A two-point conversion try was no good.
The Wolverines stopped the Dragons on their next drive with an interception, but with time running out in the first half, Dade fumbled at the 24-yard line and Pepperell was in business.
With one second remaining in the first half, the Dragons scored and kicked the extra point to cut the Wolverine led to 20-15.
Dade County was forced to punt on their first possession of the second half, and the Dragons moved the ball down field to the Wolverine 20-yard line where the defense stopped them, and the offense took over with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The Wolverines moved the ball to the Dragon 39-yard line as the third quarter ended, facing a fourth and one.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dade picked up a first down to keep the drive alive. Then with 8:29 remaining in the game, Williams got his second touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run. The extra point try was blocked and the Wolverines now led 26-15.
Dade’s defense rose to the occasion and held Pepperell the rest of the way, securing the win with a Sullivan interception with 2:07 remaining in the game.
The Wolverine defense held the Dragons to 183 total yards, 88 rushing yards on 23 carries, and 95 passing yards while Dade County’s offense racked up 303 total yards, 245 rushing yards on 57 carries, and 58 passing yards.
The Wolverines ran 65 total plays to just 39 total plays for Pepperell.
Williams led the Wolverine offense with 174 yards rushing on 34 carries and two touchdowns while Sullivan had 39 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown and Demetrius Walker had 21 yards on four carries.
Shrader completed six of eight passes for 58 yards and ran for a touchdown and Caleb Massey had two receptions for 42 yards.
The Wolverine defense was led by Carter Christiansen with 7 tackles, 1 assist, 1 pass breakup; Levi Raines with 5 tackles, 4 assists; Jax Guinn with 4 tackles, 1 quarterback sack; Brandon Willerson 4 tackles, 2 assist; Conner Cash 3 tackles, 1 quarterback sack, 1 tackle for loss, 3 assist; Eli Kimball 3 tackles, 1 assist, 1 tackle for loss.
The entire defense played an outstanding second half limiting the Dragon offense to just 10 plays in the second half!
The season comes down to Friday night’s home game against the Armuchee Indians. A win over the Indians and a Darlington loss to Trion will give the Wolverines second place in the region due to the tiebreaker, and a home game in the first round in the playoffs.
A Darlington win over Trion and a Wolverine win over Armuchee and the Wolverines are the third seed and will travel in the first round. A loss to Armuchee and the season is over for Dade.