ACWORTH — Allatoona struggled to stop Cedartown’s triple-option offense throughout much of Friday night’s game.
That is, except for when the game was on the line.
A couple of huge defensive stands, and a timely fourth-quarter turnover, helped the fourth-ranked Buccaneers come from behind to seal a 27-21 victory in a Region 7AAA game at Buccaneer Stadium.
The win kept Allatoona undefeated with a 7-0 record and a 4-0 mark in the southern subregion, and it also puts the Buccaneers in solid position to clinch the subregion. They have two road games remaining at Gilmer and Pickens, two teams in the bottom half of the standings.
After trailing for most of the game, Allatoona earned the victory with 1:07 left in the game on a 2-yard touchdown run by Miles Jones, who finished with 83 yards on 24 carries. His third and final touchdown was set up by a defensive stand when the Buccaneers kept Cedartown (5-2, 3-1) pinned on its own 3-yard line.
“That was big,” cornerback Terence Sykes said. “We just kept telling the defensive line to push and push.”
Allatoona’s defensive efforts late in the game forced the Bulldogs to punt out of their own end zone, which was then returned by to Cedartown’s 16. It looked as if the Buccaneers would have to settle for a field goal from 30 or more yards out, but Jones came up with a 14-yard sweep on third down before scoring up the middle on the next play.
Before Allatoona delivered a strong fourth-quarter finish, the game appeared to be in doubt shortly after the final quarter started.
Cedartown was leading 21-14 and moving the ball successfully behind quarterback Zach Chubb and running back Nick Chubb. On second-and-15 on the Cedartown 37, both the game and momentum went into Allatoona’s favor as Sikes caused a Nick Chubb fumble on the 43, which Marvin Mitchell recovered.
A pair of screen passes by quarterback Jeremy Uzee helped Allatoona move the chains, and once the Buccaneers got inside the 10, Jones took care of the rest. He scored from 2 yards out three plays later to tie it at 21-all.
“The game itself wasn’t pretty,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “We got lucky, but the kids fought hard and took advantage of the luck that we got. The kids made plays when they needed to make plays. The defense came through when they needed to.”
Allatoona was never in real danger in the first half, based on the scoreboard, as Cedartown was only ahead 14-7 at the break. Based on what took place on the field, however, the game didn’t look promising.
The Chubbs accounted for 281 of Cedartown’s 290 yards, 190 of which came in the first half. The twosome ran the ball at will against Allatoona and got 11 first downs.
Allatoona’s undefeated record was in jeopardy when Uzee’s long pass attempt on third down was picked off on the Cedartown 32, and the Bulldogs moved it deep into Buccaneers territory.
But Allatoona found a way to keep Cedartown out of the end zone. After Nick Chubb ran 2 yards on first down to put the Bulldogs on the 1, the Buccaneers stopped three straight quarterback sneaks.
“That was the game,” Varner said. “That was the momentum, and that was everything. Fourth-and-1 on the inch line — nine out of 10 times, you don’t stop it. We got lucky and took advantage of the break we got.”
In the second half, Varner also said the Buccaneers read the triple option better and gave up less yardage.