In a battle of two young and very successful programs, only one could make its first trip to the state semifinals this year. It is the home team from Fayette County, who will now play the Gainesville-Harris County winner for a chance to go to the Georgia Dome.
The game was marked by a slow start on both sides of the field. By the early minutes of the second quarter, each team had punted twice and fumbled once.
The Wildcats broke the scoring drought with a 65-yard drive that consisted of 11 running plays and one key third-down pass completion. Kendall Conley scored from a yard out with 5:06 to go in the second quarter.
On the next possession, Whitewater defender Matt Ogle tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and came up with an interception to give the home team the ball at its own 48. Aided by a pass interference penalty, the Wildcats drove inside the 20 in the final minute of the half. On third-and-5, quarterback Jay Ashley fumbled the snap, picked up the ball and ran 18 yards for a touchdown with 32 seconds on the clock.
The Buccaneers started at their own 6 early in the third quarter and seemed to be building momentum until a fumble was recovered by Whitewater at the Allatoona 39. From there, the Wildcats picked up a first down but were stymied after that, coming away with a 38-yard field goal by Sam Leathers.
Alex Ison took the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Wildcats’ 39. The Buccaneers moved on from there, converting a crucial fourth-and-1 inside the 15, and Nathan Shaw got them on the scoreboard by booting a 27-yard field goal with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter.
But Whitewater was able to eat up the next five minutes on the clock before punting the ball to the Buccaneers’ 11, then held right there to get the ball back on loss of downs and run out the clock. Conley scored from a yard out in the game’s final minute.
Allatoona, a fifth-year program, reached the quarterfinals for the second straight season. Whitewater, in its ninth year, had not played a quarterfinal game before this year.