The rematch of the 2019 Class 3A title game was another defensive struggle with the No. 4 ranked Crisp County Cougars holding off the No. 1 ranked and two-time defending state champion Cedar Grove Saints 16-13 in the Class 3A state quarterfinals at Cordele on Friday night.
Cedar Grove was on a 12-game playoff winning streak going into the game including the 21-14 win in the state championship game against Crisp last December but found themselves down 6-0 just 1:10 into game as the Cougars Cortez Thomas intercepted and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Cedar Grove’s Kayin Lee blocked the extra point.
Neither team could muster much offense until the Saints forced the Cougars to punt with 11:42 to play in the first half. A 14-yard run by Quinterio Lawson seemed to lift the Saints’ offense. Consecutive plays with personal fouls on Crisp County set up an eight-yard run for a touchdown by Rashod Dubinion.
Dubinion took the direct snap and behind his offensive front lowered his head and powered his way into the end zone carrying a couple of would-be Cougar tacklers with him. Louis Dominguez connected on the PAT for a 7-6 Saints lead with 7:37 left in the first half.
Crisp’s got a 60-yard kickoff return, but the Saints’ defense held to force a 44-yard field goal which was wide left.
Momentum turned in favor of the Cougars on the Saints next possession. Cedar Grove moved out to near midfield, but a crucial holding penalty caused the Saints to punt. Crisp blocked the punt and got the ball on the Cedar Grove 27.
A late pass interference call on the Saints had the Cougars threatening at the 16, but the Saints defense held to force a 30-yard field goal which David Mitchell hit to send the Cougars into the half up 9-7.
Crisp came out of the half and put together a 17-play, 76-yard drive that consumed 9:28 of the third quarter clock as Christopher Paul scored from one-yard out on fourth and goal. Fourteen of the 17 plays were running plays. Mitchell’s PAT gave the Cougars a 16-7 lead with 2:32 left in the third quarter.
The Saints answered with a 15-play, 80-yard drive of their own. Austin Smith connected on passes of 16 to Janiran Bonner, 17 to Bernard Mack and 12 yards on a fourth and six to Dubinion to keep the drive alive. Smith also scrambled for an four-yard gain and drew another personal foul for a late hit out of bounds to set up Cedar Grove’s touchdown.
Smith kept on a quarterback draw up the middle to close the gap to 16-13 as Crisp blocked the PAT.
Crisp County drove down to the Saints’ 24 when Christian Miller came up with a fumble to give Cedar Grove the football.
Cedar Grove failed to get a first down and had to punt with 3:43 to play. Crisp County would not relinquish the football as the Cougars ran out the clock.