Guntersville Outlasts Thomasville In Thriller

Guntersville won its first state championship Friday night with a victory over Thomasville.

Birmingham, Ala.--In a game that featured explosive offenses on both sides the Class 4A State Championship game between Thomasville and Guntersville fittingly came down to the final minute. Despite rushing for a Super Six record 424 yards Thomasville's bid to win the title came up just short when Tucker Bridges intercepted a Jake Overstreet pass at the five-yard line with just four seconds remaining to seal a 28-27 victory for Guntersville and their first ever state championship.

Early on Thomasville was a wrecking crew on the ground as the Tigers took over on the Guntersville 47 following a defensive stop and immediately shoved the ball down the throat of the Wildcats for the score. Taking just four plays Thomasville got on the board when James White scored from four yards out to put his team up six. Henrique Aguair added the point after and just two and a half minutes into the game Thomasville took the early lead.

Guntersville would answer back thanks to a very efficient drive that started with two minutes left in the first quarter and finished with a score in the second. Using seven plays including a huge third and 13 completion from quarterback Chaz Rogers to receiver Bridges for 15 yards, the Wildcats moved to the 24 where they faced a second and nine. That gave Rogers the excuse to look for his favorite target as he connected with Trevor Diamond for a touchdown to tie the game. A speedy 5-8, 166 junior, Diamond came into the game with 42 catches for 680 yards and 11 touchdowns and added to his already impressive total.

Thomasville struck quickly in the second quarter to take the lead back thanks to a strong one-two punch from sophomores Alex Buford and James White. Starting at their own 29-yard line the Tigers took just two plays to score the go-ahead touchdown as Buford raced 36 yards on first down to set up White. Taking the hand off in the middle of the line the 6-0, 175 White made the first man miss and was off to the races for the score. The touchdown gave Thomasville a 14-7 advantage but it wouldn't last long.

Alex Buford was an impressive sophomore running back for Thomasville.

A quick strike offense that came into the game averaging 36.6 points per game on the season, Guntersville used the passing game to tie the game. Starting at their own 36 the Wildcats rode the arm of Rogers to the score. First he hit Diamond for a big gainer that took Guntersville deep into Thomasville territory. The drive appeared to stall but Rogers came up big on third and six as he hit freshman receiver Cory Cahill for a 15-yard touchdown. The drive covered 64 yards and took just five plays as the two teams went into the locker room tied at 14.

Guntersville again used the arm of Rogers to put points on the board in the third quarter. Following a Thomasville fumble on its own 36-yard line, the Wildcats gained just two yards on two plays before Rogers went down the field with the ball. Moving in the pocket Rogers worked until Bridges worked open in the middle. Hitting him in stride inside the five Bridges fell into the end zone for the score. It was the third of the night for Rogers and the 26th of the season for the 6-1, 195 junior.

For the third time on the night the game would be tied on the next drive as Thomasville used their ground control Wing-T offense to methodically drive down the field. Using 10 plays the Tigers covered 64 yards with Buford taking it over from three yards out to once again bring Thomasville back even. With 5:45 left in the third quarter the game was setting up to be one for the ages.

Just like they had done the entire game Thomasville answered back with a vengeance on the next drive. Led by quarterback Jake Overstreet's running ability the Tigers drove down the field against Guntersville with Overstreet calling his own number from 21 yards out to put Thomasville up six. On the play the quarterback ran a bootleg to the left and juked one defender before tight roping down the sidelines for the score. The extra point was no good leaving the lead at six.

The miss proved to be huge as Guntersville kept the see-saw action alive with a magnificent drive to retake the lead from the Tigers. Taking over on their own 19 the Wildcats took just 1:37 to score on five plays and go back up 28-27. The big plays on the drive came from the arm of Rogers as he connected with Shannon Cahill on two big plays. The touchdown came with Josh Gunther running it in from two yards with 5:50 left on the clock. Joel Svensson's extra point put Guntersville up one.

Thomasville had their chances in the final minutes as the Tigers drove down inside the Guntersville 20-yard line with just over two minutes remaining. Unable to get the ball in the endzone Thomasville sent Aguair on the field to attempt a 36-yard field goal. Having missed his last kick Aguair lined up for the attempt but it fell well short. The Tigers would have one final shot but it wasn't to be on this night.

For the game Buford carried the ball 19 times for 151 yards and one touchdown for Thomasville while Overstreet added 122 yards and a score on the ground. For Guntersville the team managed just 38 yards rushing but Rogers was outstanding throwing the ball, completing 14 of 18 passes for 237 yards and three scores. Cahill caught seven for 95 yards and a score while Bridges had four for 70 and Diamond two for 67.

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