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Wildcats clip Rams in fourth, 21-20

Photo courtesy of Phillip Moore
Nick Wicker leaps into the end zone late in the fourth to help Sweetwater defeat Tyner 21-20 in
the opening round of the TSSAA playoffs. Sweetwater will travel to face top seed Alcoa in the
second round.
Published: 9:43 AM, 11/05/2012 Last updated: 9:57 AM, 11/05/2012
 

Author: Bryan Burchfield
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

SWEETWATER-Several words come to mind when describing the 2012 Sweetwater Wildcats football team. Tough, hard-working and resilient, are just a few of those words.

All that was on display when the Wildcats won a TSSAA first round play­off thriller at home Friday night against Chattanooga Tyner, 21-20.

Tyner struck first after Sweetwater muffed a punt. The Rams jumped on the football on the Sweetwater 29-yard line. Tyner's offense took it they rest of the distance and scored on a 7-yard run and led 7-0 with 6:43 in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Sweetwater's Jordan McGaughey returned the football down to the Tyner 1-yard line. However, the Wildcats could not capi­talize and fumbled the football, which was recovered by Tyner.

The Wildcats didn't hang their heads. Since most of those same Wildcats who were on offense play both ways, they turned right around and lined up on defense and got a turnover of their own when a Tyner pass was batted in the air and inter­cepted by Nick Wicker. Sweetwater was set up on the Tyner 38-yard line and drove the ball for pay dirt, coming on a 14-yard pass from Andrew Barr to a wide open Hunter Humphries. The score was 7-7 as the first quarter ended.

Tyner ate up most of the second quarter, as the Rams put together a drive that lasted nearly seven minutes. As Tyner was looking to finish the drive with a score, the Wildcat defense stepped up yet again. A Tyner pass was intercepted by Eli Arwood and returned to the 42-yard line. Three plays later, the Wildcats took their first lead of the night when Andrew Barr threw a beautiful ball to Nick Wicker streaking across the middle of the field for a 40-yard touchdown. Garret Zickgraf added the extra point and Sweetwater took a 14-7 lead into halftime.

It was clear that Tyner's game plan for the second half was to try to pound the football on Sweetwater and wear the Wildcats down. The Rams had success to that effect and evened the score at 14 a piece on a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Troy Walton.

Tyner later drove the football down the field again and capped off the drive on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kalan Hardley. The extra point was missed in what proved to be a huge play in the ball game. Tyner led at that point 20-14.

As the fourth quarter rolled around, Sweetwater had driven the ball to the Tyner 1-yard line and was looking to tie the game. An impressive goal line stand by Tyner's defense kept the Wildcats out of the end zone and gave possession of the football back to the Rams. The Wildcats could have given up, but the Sweetwater defense, led by Trevor Richesin, Zack Neil, Eli Blomstrom, and Jarren Turpeinin, stepped up once again and forced Tyner to punt.

After the punt, the Wildcats started the drive on their own 25-yard line with about 4:30 left on the clock. As Sweetwater attempted to go down the field for the win, the Wildcats found themselves in a fourth down and 11 situation at the Tyner 40-yard line. The Wildcats would covert on an amazing catch by wide out Garret Zickgraf down to the 26-yard line. Two plays later, Andrew Barr threw another perfect pass to Wicker in the corner of the end zone for the tying score. Zickgraf added the extra point and put the Wildcats ahead for good 21-20.

Tyner would have one more chance, but Sweetwater stopped the Rams on fourth down.  

It was a hard-fought team effort. The offensive line blocked well, the defense made plays when they had to and the skill positions players turned in steady performances. The Wildcats, now 8-3, got their first home playoff win since 2002 and will move on to face top-ranked Alcoa next week in the second round on the road.  


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