The Pickens Dragons struggled mightily in their region play-in game against the Dalton Catamounts on Friday night, giving up twenty-one points in the first half on their way to a 42-0 defeat, the first time the team has been shut out since last year’s season-ending loss to Heritage.The game began with the Catamounts taking possession on their own 31 yard line and moving the ball thirty-nine yards before the Dragons forced a fumble and recovered on their own 29.
Things were looking good for the Dragons on their opening drive on offense, as a 42 yard run by Shannon Brooks gave Pickens prime field position and a chance to take an early lead on the dangerous Catamounts.
However, a five yard run by Tanner Brumby to the Dalton 18 yard line was quickly followed by a false start penalty and an interception returned back to the Dalton 28, ending what would prove to be one of the Dragons’ best chances of scoring.
Now energized by the big play on defense, the Catamounts took control on offense, stringing together a six-play, 72 yard drive that ended on a 2 yard quarterback sneak by Cole Calfee to give Dalton an early 7-0 advantage.
The Dragons’ next possession, which saw the team gain 78 yards on ten plays, once again showed that team was more than capable of moving the ball on the Dalton defense, but again the drive ended prematurely on a fourth down play that saw the offense lose two yards and hand Dalton possession of the football on its own seven yard line.
Dalton had hardly any trouble with its next drive, accumulating 93 yards on just twelve plays and pushing its lead to 14-0 on another quarterback sneak by Calfee.
Pickens’s possession following Calfee’s second touchdown saw much of the same for the offense in the fact that the team was able to move the ball, yet couldn’t find a way to put points on the board. This drive saw the Dragons move from their own twenty yard line all the way to the Dalton 33, but an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the team’s hopes of scoring.
The Catamounts showed no mercy towards the Dragons’ defense following the turnover on downs, piecing together a quick six-play, 67 yard drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown run by Kelvis Rhodes to put Dalton up 21-0 with 1:36 left in the second quarter.
Pickens attempted to put together a scoring drive before the halftime break, but after three plays were forced to punt. Dalton then ran out the remaining 27 seconds on the clock and headed into the locker room with a comfortable three touchdown lead.
Once the halftime festivities had ended, the Dragons hit the field with the ball and with a chance to make the game a little more competitive. Unfortunately, things went from very bad to considerably worse on this drive, as a three-and-out by the offense was followed by a blocked punt that left Dalton only 31 yards away from the end zone.
This blocked punt proved to be the straw that broke the Dragon’s back on this night, as two plays later Robert Hardaway made an impressive 24 yard touchdown run to make the score 28-0 with 9:55 left in the third quarter.
The Dragons’ next drive began with a bang on a seventeen yard pass from Tanner Brumby to Shannon Brooks to give the Pickens faithful in the crowd some hope, but three plays later the offense left the field in favor of the punt team.
Dalton then did what it had accomplished time and time again on this night, running nine plays and gaining 80 yards en route to a 5-yard touchdown run by Kelvis Rhodes to make it 35-0 with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
Pickens tried once again to find a rhythm on offense in order to salvage something on the night, but this drive saw the Dragons run three plays with a loss of one yard, leading to another Tanner Brumby punt.
The Catamounts could do no wrong on their next possession (just as they had played the majority of the game) and piled on seven more points on a four yard touchdown run to put them up 42-0.
The rest of the game saw a running game clock as well as two teams just looking to make it out of the contest without any injuries or complications. Although the Dragons’ defense did make a great play when sophomore defender Deandre Green made an interception and returned it to the Pickens 45 yard line with less than a minute to go, the remaining plays were more-or-less forgettable.
Shannon Brooks’ 14 yard run on first down coincided with the clock hitting zero, leaving the Dragons with a tough 42-0 loss to end their season.
The loss had to be a tough pill to swallow for the Dragons, who found themselves sitting at 4-2 with a great chance to make the playoffs before dropping three of their last four games to set their record at 5-5.
While not making the playoffs puts a damper on the end of the year, Pickens should take pride in the fact that they posted their first non-losing season since 2006 in Dragons head coach Chris Parker’s first season on the job and won more games in the 2012 season than in 2011 and 2010 combined.
Although he was obviously disappointed with the loss, Coach Parker had nothing but good things to say about the seventeen seniors on this Dragons squad, saying
“We told them we were proud of them. We really felt like the seniors transformed the perception of what Pickens is…In the totality of the season, I was really proud of the seniors and the standard they were able to set for changing the culture of how we are going to work and how we practice and things like that. Now it will be the job of the younger guys to build on that standard and try to do the same or even better next year.”
Coach Parker also talked about the importance of taking lessons learned from the gridiron and using them in day-to-day life, stating that
“We want them to hurt a little bit tonight, but we want them to remember all of the positives and look at the whole season and what they can build on for the future, whether they are a senior and the future is life—they are going to have some times where things don’t go their way and they have to bounce back and hopefully football taught them how to handle that—or if they aren’t a senior they need to remember these things and come back and build on it for next year.”
The Dragons finished the game with 281 yards of offense—137 coming via the passing game and 144 from the running game.
Tanner Brumby finished the last game of the season with 14 completions for 137 yards as well as 12 carries for 31 yards. Running back Shannon Brooks compiled 115 yards on 11 carries and had 5 receptions for 36 yards.
Titus Henderson led all Dragons’ receivers with 90 reception yards on 7 catches.