The DeKalb County Tigers ended a 19-year, 15-game drought to their district football rival, the Livingston Academy Wildcats, Friday night in Smithville. The Tigers scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and held off a late Wildcat surge for a 35-28 victory, which moved the Tigers to a perfect 3-0 on the season.
Neither team scored on the first six possessions of the game, which resulted in five punts and a DeKalb County turnover. The 'Cats struck first with 8:20 remaining in the second quarter, as tailback Logan Watson broke loose on a 17-yard touchdown run. Eli Sadler added the extra point, as Livingston jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
It took the Tigers only 36 seconds to answer, as quarterback Steven Jennings hooked up with Aaron Patterson on an 86-yard touchdown pass. Matthew Agee booted the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
Livingston, however, came right back on their next possession, and scored on an 11-yard pass from quarterback Kaleb Qualls to receiver Wade Eldridge. Sadler was on target for his second extra point, and the visiting Wildcats opened up a 14-7 lead, with 4:53 left in the half.
DeKalb County wasn't finished for the half, as the Tigers roared right back with a nine-play, 64-yard drive, which culminated in a five-yard touchdown pass from Jennings to A.J. Mooneyham, with 1:26 left in the half. Poss barely missed the extra point, which enabled Livingston to carry a 14-13 lead into the locker room at halftime.
It took over seven minutes for someone to post the first score of the second half, but it was the Wildcats who struck, on a two-yard touchdown run by fullback James Owens. Sadler kicked his third extra point of the night, and Livingston Academy went ahead 21-13, with 4:44 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers took command in the fourth quarter, turning the opening drive of the final frame into a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Tailback Luke Boss plowed the ball into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play from the one-yard-line, and Jennings motored in for the two-point conversion, which tied the game, 21-21, with 7:50 remaining in regulation.
DeKalb County took their first lead of the night with 5:26 left in the game, as running back Devonta Milan ran the ball in from three yards out. Milan set up the scoring strike with a 58-yard halfback pass to Jonathan Munoz, which put the Tigers at the Wildcat three-yard-line. Poss booted the extra point, and DeKalb County led, 28-21.
That score was just the beginning of a fourth quarter onslaught for the Black and Gold, who came right back and tallied a 59-yard touchdown run by Milan, with 2:34 to go in the game. Poss' extra point gave the Tigers a seemingly insurmountable 14-point lead, at 35-21, but the 'Cats were far from done.
Facing a second-and-15 from deep in their own territory on the ensuing drive, the Wildcats silenced the DeKalb faithful with an 83-yard touchdown pass from Qualls to Eldridge. Sadler kicked his fourth extra point, and the Tiger lead was trimmed to 35-28, with 2:12 left in regulation.
Livingston Academy recovered an onside kick to give themselves hope in the final two minutes of regulation. Receiver Josh Blodgett went up and recovered Sadler's kick at the Tiger 47-yard-line, and the Wildcats promptly drove the ball to the DC six-yard-line, where they had first-and-goal to go. After an incomplete pass by Qualls, Tiger linebacker Patrick Spare sacked the Livingston quarterback back at the 17-yard-line, which set up third-and-goal. The DeKalb County defense stiffened on back-to-back goal-to-go plays, which turned the ball back over to the Tigers on downs, with eleven seconds remaining. Jennings kneeled down to run out the clock, which ended the Tigers' long-standing futility against the Wildcats.
DeKalb County will host White County, next Friday night, as they seek to go to 4-0 on the season. WJLE will have LIVE coverage of the game from the VanHooser Stadium in Smithville.