The Alcovy High School football team may have been a decisive underdog in its Class AAAAAA first round state matchup at Newnan, but one thing was clear, the Tigers were determined to leave it all on the Drake Stadium field in the 38-0 season ending loss.
And even if the execution wasn't what it needed to be, the effort was commendable. The Tigers played hard to the final whistle.
The effort didn't go overlooked by Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman.
"We were outmanned tonight," Hoffman said. "Size-wise they were a difficult opponent. But our kids played hard and we played with a great deal of heart."
No one played harder than senior quarterback Cornell White, who rushed for 125 yards and threw for nearly 100 yards. "Cornell doesn't get the credit he deserves. He has been a pleasure. He's a fine football player and a tremendous young man," Hoffman said.
Trailing 9-0 late in the first half, two plays turned all the momentum in the direction of the Cougars.
Following a blocked 44 yard Alcovy field goal attempt, Newnan quarterback Bailey Bryant hit UGA commit Tray Matthews for a 39 yard scoring strike. Bryant found Traon Moss for the two-point conversion to give Newnan a 17-0 halftime advantage.
Down 17-0, Alcovy needed something good to happen in a hurry. Having already rushed for 71 yards in the first half, White then showcased his scrambling and passing skills. Starting at their own two yard line, White connected on consecutive completions of 18 and 12 yards to Marcus Williams and Tristen Payne.
Alcovy was no longer in perilous field position. But disaster struck one play later when a batted ball was juggled, then collected by Cougar defensive back Rodney Tennie. The Newnan senior not only grabbed the ball, but he managed to remain in play, returning the pass 36 yards for a Cougar touchdown and upping the Newnan lead to 24-0 with 6:58 left in the third quarter.
Newnan (9-2) rusher Kelvin Khayyam would add two scores, one in each quarter, to make the final margin, 38-0.
Hoffman praised his team following the defeat.
"We have been in the playoffs three of the last four years and we have to credit these kids.
Most would have figured it would take us six or seven years to qualify for the playoffs.
But we are the only school in the county to make it these last two seasons and we are pleased to have made it three of the last four years," he said.
The Alcovy coach also praised the effort of senior Joaquin Ross and noted this game will benefit his program in the future.
"This was a learning experience and next year we will count on guys like Ryan Adams, Curtiss Benton and Okon Goodwin to lead us back to another postseason."
The Tigers finish the season 4-7. Newnan, which lost Bryant to a third quarter shoulder injury, will host Colquitt County next week.
The Packers defeated top seeded McEachern 30-28 in Powder Springs.