Defensive War ends in Hart Victory 7-0

Adel – In what no Georgia high school football fan could have predicted, Cook High School’s season came to an end in Adel Friday night with a brutal 7-0 loss to the Hart County Bulldogs. The fact that the Hornets lost to the Bulldogs from Hartwell was not the surprise. The fact that two teams averaging over 35 points per win would combine for one second quarter touchdown was stunning.

“You’re looking at a team that ran for 490 yards and scored 42 points last week,” said Hart Coach William DeVane. “And Cook stepped up and stopped us. You have got to give the credit to their defense. They played great.”

Hart County's Shevez Allen and Cook's Jeremy Walden air it up for control of a jump ball in the back corner of the end zone in the 1st Quarter. Pass was ruled incomplete. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr/SGSN

Hart County’s Shevez Allen and Cook’s Jeremy Walden air it up for control of a jump ball in the back corner of the end zone in the 1st Quarter. Pass was ruled incomplete. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr/SGSN

While the Cook defense bent and absorbed big play after big play from the Bulldogs, Hart’s defense was just as stout. Hart finished the game with 220 yards in total offense, but the Hornets could manage just 196 of their own.

“We played pretty well on defense, but I was disappointed with our offense,” said Cook Head Coach Jon Lindsey after the game. “Their defensive line just whipped us all night long. They were the difference in the game. We’re a little undersized on the O-line, and they played their tails off. But that D-line was better than we thought they’d be.”

The two defenses played well, but both teams also racked up ridiculous penalty yardage. Hart was whistled for 11 penalties for 118 yards including 98 in the first half. While the Bulldogs seemed to get the penalties under control in the second half, Cook’s problems kept coming. The Hornets had 55 yards in penalties in both halves but also had a few more penalties declined.

The penalty parade started early as the Bulldogs’ Keenan Dillon took a buck sweep 73 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first snap only to have a 15-yard chop block penalty bring the play back. There were four chop blocks called including one called on the Cook defense.

“The penalties hurt us,” said Lindsey. “But penalties weren’t the difference in the game. They had a lot of penalties, too. They just made one more big play than we did.”

Moments after the touchdown was called back, Hart got the game’s first turnover when the Hornets muffed a punt and failed to cover the ball. Three plays and four yards later, Hart missed a 30-yard field goal, and the tone of the game was set.

Cook’s best drive of the game was its first. After the missed field goal, Tavian Smith had an 18-yard run, Corey McCall had three carries for 12 yards and quarterback Connor Hilliard connected with Jay Smith for a 26-yard gain on a drive that went from the Cook 20 to the Hart 16 before stalling.

Hart then put together the game’s only scoring drive. The Bulldogs took over on the Cook 32 and lost six yards on two running plays. Hart quarterback Cameron Fouch then scrambled around on third down until a receiver came open way down filed. He was able to get the ball far enough for his receiver to convert the third and 16 with a 22-yard gain.

The only score of the contest, Anthony Turner looks the ball in after a 34-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Fouch on a scramble. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

The only score of the contest, Anthony Turner looks the ball in after a 34-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Fouch on a scramble. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

The two teams received two 15-yard penalties each on the drive, but the game winner came on another scrambling effort by Fouch. The Bulldog QB escaped a pair of near sacks before spotting 6-4, junior receiver Anthony Turner open down field for a 34-yard score with 11:39 left in the first half. That would be the game’s only score.

The sloppy nature of the penalty-plagued contest was summed up at the start of the fourth quarter. The two teams traded four turnovers on the first 12 snaps of the final quarter. Cook’s Allen collected one of those turnovers on a circus catch of a tipped ball for an interception.

Cook (9-3) ran the ball 38 times for 165 yards but completed only two of eight throws for 31 yards. Allen had 51 yards on the ground. Jay Smith ran for 43 yards and Corey McCall pitched in 32. For Hart County (11-1), Fouch was 9-17-1 passing for 159 yards and a touchdown. No Hart player had 20 yards rushing individually. Hart will now Host Westminster in the quarterfinals.

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