WOODBURY- Flint River was just a few plays away from its first region championship since 2008. Instead, they fell to the defending back-to-back state champions, the Piedmont Cougars.
The game started off well for the Wildcats. They scored on their first drive with quarterback Seth Short running 25 yards for a touchdown. They scored again later in the first quarter, with Short connecting with senior receiver Russell Durand on a 19-yard pass play. Short ran for another TD in the second quarter, this time from 7 yards. Durand intercepted a Piedmont pass in the endzone to end the only scoring threat Piedmont had in the first half, and took a 21-0 lead into the lockerroom.
Piedmont took control of the game for almost the entire second half. They scored on their very first drive to make the score 21-6. Piedmont forced a punt and scored again on the ensuing drive, making it 21-13. The fourth quarter saw Piedmont score its third unanswered touchdown, but the 2-pt. conversion failed, so the Wildcats still held a 21-19 lead. The Wildcats were driving until a fumble was returned for a touchdown. The 2-pt. conversion was good and Piedmont led for the first time, 27-19. In a quarter and a half, the FRA lead had evaporated. With less than two minutes left in the game, the Wildcats took over on their own 23-yard line. FRA executed a brilliant drive down the field. It ended with a 35-yard pass from Short to junior receiver Jay Adams to tie the game with no time left on the clock. The ensuing extra-point was blocked forcing overtime.
FRA started with the ball. On the first play, Short had the ball stripped while fighting for extra yards, and Piedmont fell on the fumble. The Cats defense did not allow the Cougars to move far, but Piedmont would hit a 37-yard field goal to clinch the region championship, 30-27.
Short had an impressive game, as he was responsible for all four of Flint River’s touchdowns. He threw for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two touchdowns. Flint River head coach, Jason Carrera said after the game, “It was a battle for both sides and one of those games you hate to see anyone lose. It was like a tale of two halves, but I was very happy with the way our boys fought back and ran the 2 minute offense and got the tie and a chance to win. I hate it most for our senior players to not get a Region Championship, but the great thing is we get another game this week with a playoff game at home against Memorial Day.”
Flint River’s regular season ends at 8-3. This was an amazing bounce-back, considering the Cats were 2-8 and last place in their division at this time last year. Flint River will enter the state playoffs at the number two seed, and will play Memorial Day in the first round tonight.