South Pittsburg lost to Fayetteville 20-14 in the Class A state finals in Cookeville on Friday afternoon. Pirates got the ball to start the game and drove to the Tigers goal line, but on fourth and goal from the two, D’Andre Kelly was stopped short of scoring a touchdown.
Later in the first quarter, the Pirates Hunter Frame returned an interception to the Tigers four yard line. A couple of plays later and Kelly punched it in to give South Pitt a 7-0 lead.
Fayetteville got on the board in the second quarter as Calvin Hughes hauled in a six yard TD pass from Samuel Holdmeyer. A two point conversion gave the Tigers an 8-7 lead. Fayetteville extended the lead right before halftime on a short touchdown run from Kenardo Jackson to make it 14-7 at the half. Jackson had over 100 yards rushing in the first half.
South Pitt fought back to tie the contest in the closing moments of the third quarter. Brayden Sanders scored on a quarterback sneak from the one to make it a 14-14 ballgame.
Fayetteville went back on top with just over three minutes left in the game. On fourth and two, Jackson went 29 yards for a touchdown. A two point try failed to make it 20-14. Jackson rushed for 210 yards to earn game MVP honors.
South Pitt got the ball and worked their way down the field. With just a few seconds to go from the Tigers 19, Sanders lofted a pass to Reginald Hunter in the back corner of the end zone, but the pass was incomplete as time expired, and the Pirates missed out on claiming their 6th state championship.
Said head coach VIC GRIDER: FOR WHATEVER REASON, THEY JUST MANHANDLED AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL. THAT GOES BACK ON ME AND US AS A COACHING STAFF. WE JUST DIDN’T FULLY EXPECT THAT. BUT THEY CONTROLLED THE GAME FROM START TO FINISH AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE. WE COULDN’T GET THE BALL AWAY FROM THEM IN THE FIRST HALF WHEN WE NEEDED TO. AND WE JUST STRUGGLED OFFENSIVELY TO PUT DRIVES TOGETHER. THAT’S HIGHLY UNUSUAL FOR US.
Said running back HUNTER FRAME: SOMETIMES IT JUST DON’T GO YOUR WAY, YOU KNOW. YOU JUST GOT TO GET BACK UP AND KEEP ON GOING. THESE YOUNG GUYS, THESE GUYS THAT WILL BE BACK NEXT YEAR, THEY CAN HANG THEIR HATS ON THIS, REMEMBER IT, REMEMBER WHAT IT FEELS LIKE, THAT WAY THEY NEVER HAVE TO FEEL THAT WAY EVER AGAIN.
Said GRIDER: YOU LOVE GETTING TO THE FINAL GAME, BUT AT OUR PLACE IT’S MEASURED THE STANDARD IS WINNING IT ALL, AND WE DIDN’T GET IT DONE. AND I HATE IT FOR OUR KIDS BECAUSE THEY REALLY WANTED IT. WE MIGHT NOT HAVE PLAYED OUR BEST BALL BUT THEY REALLY WANTED TO WIN IT. I’M DISAPPOINTED FOR THEM THAT WE DIDN’T FIND A WAY TO DO IT.
Hunter Frame led the Pirates offense with 94 yards rushing.