CORDELE — It's a game film Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart probably doesn't want to watch, but he'll do it anyway.
It was a game of missed opportunities for the Jefferson Dragons (10-2 No 1. seed Region 8-3A) as their season came to end with a 22-20 loss to Crisp County (10-3 Region 1-3A No. 1 seed) in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs in The Cougar's Den on Friday night.
"We had several shots that and just didn't make," Cathcart said. "
The Dragons allowed a fake extra-point try to turn into a successful 2-point try for the Cougars in the second quarter, which put them behind in the special teams game. They also missed a 30-yard field goal in the second half and missed on a wide-open touchdown play.
"It was a tough deal," Cathcart said. "You miss a 30-yard field goal, they get a two-point conversion on a fake kind of field goal alignment deal, so we're chasing that point. This team has lost two games and both, basically, came to an extra-point battle."
Jefferson ended the game with 275 yards rushing against the Cougars' top-5-ranked defense.
"They've got a Michigan State commit at linebacker and underclassmen that are Power 5 recruits, so they don't stay blocked long," Cathcart said. "We felt like when we got in a good rhythm in the second half, we were able to sustain drives."
But the Dragons let their presence be known quickly when Jordan Perry danced 77 yards on the opening drive for a touchdown. The series took 54 seconds off the clock.
Perry finished the game with 146 yards on 9 carries and a touchdown.
Then jet-lag set in.
The Cougars scored late in the first quarter and twice in the second quarter to take a 22-7 lead at the half. AJ Lofton rushed in two the of the scores -- 18 yards and 1 yard -- and tossed the third to Katroian Raines from 8 yards out.
"I think it maybe took, unfortunately, a quarter and change to get our legs under us," Cathcart said.
The Dragons came out in the second half energized, stopping the Cougars' opening stanza and marching 74 yards on the ensuing drive for a touchdown. Kade Mcnally took the Colby Clark handoff and scampered 12 yards for the score.
"We challenged them to go take your best swing," Cathcart said. "Our staff made some great adjustments, but our kid's body language changed and they really started getting after it."
Later in the fourth, Clark scored on a 5-yard run, but the 2-point try was unsuccessful, leaving the Dragons behind, 22-20, with 10:54 left.
After the score, the game turned into a stalemate. The Dragons, however, put together a strong drive late in the final quarter but ended questionable fumble call ended what could have been the go-ahead drive.
"It was a tough deal in the end, but this is such a special group," Cathcart said. "It's a really awesome senior class -- it's tough saying goodbye to those guys. They've done some awfully great things for Jefferson. But we do have a lot of guys returning, so we're excited about that. We're eager to get those guys bigger and stronger."