By Gary Smith
Trailing for the majority of the game, the Peabody Golden Tide answered Coach Shane Jabobs’ “competitive challenge” and rallied for 14 fourth quarter points to defeat Adamsville 14-7 in the second round of the TSSAA State Playoffs held last week at Walter Kilzer Stadium.
Playing Adamsville for the second time in two weeks, Coach Jacobs knew that the Tide would be in for another tough game. (PHS won the first match-up 34-20.) Friday’s game followed a trend similar to the first as the Cardinals took an early lead and forced the Tide to play catch-up football.
While Peabody’s defense played at peak efficiency after Adamsville’s initial offensive series, the Tide offense moved the football, but misfired in key down-and-distance situations.
The first missed scoring opportunity occurred on the game’s initial series as Peabody snapped the football eight times and covered 69 yards before relinquishing possession due to a fourth down stop at the Adamsville three-yard line.
Adamsville’s offense moved the length of the field in eight plays to score a 36-yard touchdown on a pass from quarterback Collin Misenhimer to Brodie Austin. Jonathan Linan kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Jacquez Wilkins recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff to give PHS excellent field position at the Tide 43-yard line. Aided by a targeting penalty, the home team moved the football into striking distance for a score, but Peabody’s Red Zone troubles continued. Adamsville recovered a fumble at the 12-yard line to thwart the scoring threat.
Marvin Cliff’s fumble recovery at the Peabody 36-yard line set the stage for Peabody to tie the game. Cooper Baugus broke through the right side for a 39-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper and Zach Grooms booted the extra point to tie the score at 7-7 with 9:34 left in the contest.
Peabody’s offensive efficiency continued to improve as the Tide rolled up 174 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Much of that yardage was generated in the last 2:13 of the game when PHS snapped the football nine times during an 85-yard scoring drive. However, the game-deciding play occurred on a pass with two seconds left when Baugus connected with Je’Nevee Robinson on a go-route along the home team sideline for a 27-yard touchdown. Grooms sailed the extra point kick high above the crossbar for the 14-7 win.
Coach Jacobs explained, “The primary read was Je’Nevee (Robinson) on the go-route, and then we had a check down there because we felt that we needed 10 more yards for a field goal attempt. We saved the time out to have the field goal team ready. Fortunately, Je’Nevee was able to get past the corner there and it worked out.”
He praised, “Je’Nevee made a great play for the second consecutive week. He has been such a great player for us his whole career here. It is so fitting that Je’Nevee scored the game-winning touchdown. I couldn’t have been more proud if it had been my own son. I love the fight and the grit we played with tonight.”
Statistically, Peabody amassed 343 yards rushing and 53 yards passing for 396 total yards and 19 first downs. Adamsville logged 56 yards on the ground and 123 yards through the air for 179 total yards and seven renewed series. (The PHS defense limited Adamsville to almost 100 yards below the total offense compiled in the first game.) Tide quarterback Cooper Baugus completed four-of-nine passes, with one touchdown and the Cardinals went 8/12/0 in the aerial department.
PHS yielded one-of-two fumbles and AHS surrendered both loose balls. The home team was penalized five times for 45 yards and the visiting squad was flagged twice for 15 yards.
Baugus scrambled 35 times for 252 yards and one touchdown. “We lost Jarel (Dickson) after the first series. Coach (Jay) Taylor got creative with players in the backfield and we did a good job of running the ball. Cooper (Baugus) couldn’t have played tougher than what he did. We live with the mistakes he makes because he is a tough kid, who is going to make big plays when we need him to.”
Top defenders included: Khance Hill, with five solo tackles and one assist; Hunter Hudson, with four primary contacts and six secondary strikes; Jaime Hernandez, with four initial hits and three help-outs and Marvin Cliff, Jr., with three tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks.
Next, Peabody (10-2) travels to Union City on Friday night for the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Kickoff is 7 p.m. The Tornadoes won the initial match-up 21-14 in the third game of the season.
“I can’t wait to play Union City. We played them in Week Three and we were banged up. We are banged up again, but everybody is at this time in the season. The first game left a bad taste in our mouths. We couldn’t be more excited about playing them. It is going to be a good ballgame and we are looking forward to it.”
Listing the keys to the game, Coach Jacobs said, “We must tackle a lot better than we did the first time and be a lot more efficient offensively. In the first game, we did not execute and played our worst game of the season. We have got to clean some stuff up and quit with the penalties. We do a lot of things that we are better than. When we get past doing some of that stuff there, we have a shot at being a good team.”