EATONTON, Ga. —The latest chapter in the Piedmont Academy-Gatewood athletic rivalry played out on the football field last Friday.
The Cougars hoped for an upset against one of the top teams in GISA Class AA but ended up falling short 42-21. The game was competitive until deep in the fourth quarter.
“We had every chance to win the football game,” Piedmont coach Will Johnson said. “We had three possessions inside their 35 and we had two turnovers and a missed assignment.”
Johnson has said he wants his team to be able to compete with the upper level programs and while the Cougars did that last week the coach was not accepting a moral victory.
“I was proud of our effort but we can’t be happy just being in the game,” the coach said. “Moral victories are not for us.”
Piedmont trailed 7-0 until the final minute of the first half when Gatewood returned an interception for a touchdown. The Gators eventually moved in front 28-14 but the Cougars had an opportunity for another score but could not capitalize.
“We didn’t execute our offense and against teams like Gatewood that is going to be costly,” Johnson said. “We proved we are capable of being on the field with teams like Gatewood if we do what we are capable of doing. When you are within striking distance you can’t let opportunities slip away.”
The coach said the defense played well against the Gators and kept fighting throughout the contest.
“Last year when we played them it was 48-0 at halftime,” Johnson said. “We took a big step this season but we have to continue to play well to make things go our way.”
Senior quarterback Chris Pittman was 13-of-25 for 203 yards and three scores but was sacked four times. He added 128 yards on the ground on 17 attempts.
Bradley Greenwood had a big night receiving as he caught three passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Holder made two catches for 27 yards while Brody Anderson had two receptions for 45 yards.
Jackson Welch, Luke Welch, Gavin Mask and Tanner Locklear also had receptions. Mask also completed a pass to Pittman for 40 yards. Jackson Welch had a six-yard scoring catch.
Friday’s game capped the regular season for Piedmont (6-3 overall). Johnson said it is not possible to add an additional opponent at this juncture.
The Cougars will now have the next two Friday nights off before awaiting the winner of the Thomas Jefferson-Memorial Day matchup for the GISA Class A state championship next month. The game will be in Monticello.
“This week we are going back to a fall camp type of setup,” Johnson said. “We will be working on individual drills and tackling. We are going to be physical every day because we need to get back to playing that way. It is going to be a week where we work to improve ourselves.”