ROACHDALE — The football gods would just not give Southmont a break as their season comes to an end with a 19-14 loss to North Putnam in the first round of the 2A Section 37 tournament.
The Mounties had two touchdowns called back on penalties, had a turnover that resulted in a Cougars score, but could not get a takeaway. After three quarters of not being able to find the end zone, they scored twice in the fourth quarter and were driving for the win, only to run out of time.
“I’m just so proud of the effort of these guys,” South coach Desson Hannum said. “They controlled the three things we could control - our effort, our energy and our attitude.”
The Cougars rolled the dice on the first play of the game.
After winning the coin toss, they deferred and then executed an onside kick, falling on the football just inside South territory.
Two plays later, NP quarterback Gunner Burress ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
“I thought we had fallen on that onside kick,” Hannum said. “But we didn’t, and they took advantage. We really responded after that however.”
The Mounties defense did just that, shutting the Cougars offense down until the third quarter, when a South fumble gave them another short field.
Burress threw a fourth-down TD pass and it was 13-0, as the Cougars were looking for some revenge after losing to South early in the season.
Enter the fourth quarter and the Mounties passing game.
Freshman QB Nolan Boyer, who had completed nine passes for 43 yards in all the quarters he had played since entering the lineup in the middle of the season, completed eight passes for 108 yards and a TD.
On the second play of the quarter, on fourth and 10 in the red zone, he found Keaton Conkright on the edge of the field at the two yard line. The senior scraped the chalk line to haul in the catch.
Wyatt Woodall scored on the next play and the Mounties were on the board.
After each team punted, the Cougars scored on another Burress run to take a 19-8 lead.
South went into hurry up.
Boyer went 4-of-5 and found Brady Boller from five yards out. His Mounties were down only 19-14 and there was 2:15 left.
South’s defense put up and three-and-out, and the Mounties got the ball back on the 20 with 1:42 remaining.
Carson Chadd caught a pass, gain of 18.
On fourth down, Cale Hess got open and added some more yards, finishing with 13 and moving the sticks.
On third down, Chadd took a pass away from two NP defenders for 19 and another first down.
The problem is that the clock was disappearing.
After spiking the ball, and with 10 seconds left from the Cougars 31, Boyer had to heave one toward the end zone that was picked off.
“He (Boyer) had to run two two-minute drills,” Hannum said of his QB. “He did a good job under the (cold and wet) circumstances. We set up a two-minute drill every Thursday in practice. We had either four or five freshmen or sophomores on the field for every one of those plays, and I am so proud of them for doing their jobs as well as they could.”
Woodall finished with 55 yards rushing, followed by Chadd with 26 and Isaiah McMasters with 25. South had 120 yards rushing, and with the 108 passing, finished with 20 more yards than the Cougars for the game.
Penalties were the bane of both teams, as both had 11, but South had two scoring runs, a 79-yarder by Chadd and an 18-yarder by Woodall, that came back for yellow flags. South’s drives died after both penalties.
“It would have been great to have gotten one or both of them,” Hannum said.
The loss ends South’s season at 2-6, while the Cougars move to 2-8 and will advance to face Western Boone next week.
The loss also ends the football careers of six Southmont seniors, as McMasters, Conkright, Hess, Dylan Conkright, Riley Woodall (who blocked a punt in the second quarter), and Logan Parrish all took off their cold and muddy jersey’s for the final time.
“You never know when the season ends, with the playoff structure we have,” Hannum said. “You never want it to end for the seniors, but they get so much credit for how they have handled things this season with all the distractions. They never stopped working and I’m just so proud of their efforts and the efforts of our entire team. We had a chance to win tonight - that’s all you can ask for. We managed to make some good things happen even without many breaks.”