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Pioneers fall to Warriors
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Advancing to a second straight bowl wasn’t an option for the Warren County Middle School football team, so Tuesday night’s season finale against the White County Warriors was the last opportunity for the Pioneers to lace up the cleats.
Warren County played a solid game, but it was the Warriors who left Nunley Stadium with a 20-12 victory on eighth-grade night for the Pioneers.
Coach Adam Wood, who guided Warren County to a 2-5 season in his first year as head coach, wasn’t keen on ending the season with a loss despite the growth he saw from his team throughout the year.
“It was a hard-fought game between two evenly matched teams,” said Wood. “In the end, we didn’t get the breaks we needed to come away with the victory.
“This was a learning process for us as coaches and for a team that didn’t return many players from a season ago. We were all learning on the fly and we know 2-5 wasn’t what we set out to accomplish, but we’re going to work hard to turn it around next season.”
Warren County had a chance to send the game into overtime, but a late interception sealed the victory for White County.
Trailing 20-12 with three minutes to go, Pioneer quarterback Trayton Rackley connected with A.D. Majors on a 25-yard pass that put Warren County into a first-and-goal situation.
The Pioneers dialed up another pass play in attempts to score, but Rackley’s pass skipped off the hands of Majors and right into the arms of a White County linebacker to end any chance of a comeback.
It was the combination of Majors and Rackley that gave Warren County an early lead Tuesday night.
After both teams failed to score on their opening drive, including the Pioneers being stopped after starting the game with a “Music City Miracle” type special teams play, Rackley found Majors on a slant for the biggest gain of the regular season.
Standing at his own 10, Rackley hit Majors in stride on a slant pattern as the Pioneer wide receiver raced past the Warrior defense. Majors went 87 yards before being tackled on the Warrior 3.
Rackley went back to the air for the opening score as he hit Raliegh Woods for a three-yard touchdown pass three plays later. Rackley was stopped on the two-point conversion as Warren County led 6-0 with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
White County answered on the first play of the second quarter. With the Warriors near the Warren County 40, Chris Richman took a handoff and went straight into a pile of Pioneers.
The Warrior running back kept his legs churning and was able to bust out of the pile and sprint 40 yards for a touchdown. The Pioneers stopped the two-point conversion, leaving the game tied at six.
Warren County came up with another big stop right before the half. The Warriors were at the door step of the Pioneer goal line, but the Warren County defense stuffed two runs to leave the game tied going into the locker rooms.
White County was able take the lead with an early touchdown in the third quarter, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion.
The Pioneers battled back as their second touchdown as set up by a big special teams play by Majors.
Majors fielded a punt in his own territory, but avoided tacklers on his way to a big return. The play gained an additional 15 yards when White County’s coach was assessed a personal foul after arguing Majors’ knee touched the ground during the run.
With great field position to start the fourth quarter, Warren County got back on the board as Rackley found running back Jamey Jennings on a screen pass for a score. The Pioneers were stuffed on the two-point conversion though, leaving the home team behind by two.
Richman made it an eight-point game with his second touchdown run late in the fourth quarter and a last-second interception sealed the game for White County.
Rackley finished the game with over 100 yards passing and two touchdowns. Majors topped the 100-yard mark in receiving, while Jennings paced the Pioneer ground attack with 30 yards rushing.