The Metter Tigers 2019 football season came to a heartbreaking end this past Friday night following a 35-6 loss to the Brooks County Trojans.
There was a great crowd on hand to support both schools. Both sets of stands were nearly full, and those fans were treated to a great football game. It turned out to be a great defensive battle and the final score does not reflect how close the game was.
The Trojan defense did a great job slowing the Metter rushing attack down, holding the Tigers to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time this season, but entering the fourth quarter, it was still anybody’s game with Metter only down 14-6. In the end, the Tigers made more mistakes than their opponents, and that is what cost them the game.
The game got off to a great start if you were a Metter fan. Zach Davis kicked the ball off to Brooks County. The kick landed just in front of the Brooks County return man who decided to let the ball roll out of bounds, only it didn’t. The ball checked up and stayed in bounds and the Metter kicking team was able to rush down field and recover the loose ball.
The Tigers would have the first takeaway of the game on the opening kickoff, and they would take possession at the Trojan 24 yard line. The Tigers would take advantage of the short field and find the endzone in just five plays. Aaron Collins started the drive out with a seven yard run. Ahmod Collins picked up two yards on the next play to bring up a short third down and one. Quarterback Taj Hobbs kept the ball himself on third down, and even though the ball was fumbled, Hobbs recovered the loose ball and picked up nine yards and a first down to get the ball to the six yard line. Aaron Collins picked up two yards on the next play to move the ball inside the five, and on second and goal, Taj Hobbs faked the handoff up the middle and kept the ball himself around the right side and walked into the endzone untouched to put the Tigers on the board first.
Zach Davis missed the extra point, but Metter had the early lead 6-0.
Zach Davis and the Tiger kicking team would take the field to, once again, kick the ball to Brooks. This kick was fielded by Omari Arnold at the 22, and he returned the kick 26 yards out near midfield before being tackled at the 48 yard line.
The Brooks County offense led by Quarterback Nitavion Burrus came out to get their first possession underway. They opened things up with a hand off to Omari Arnold on a three yard run to move just into Tiger territory. Burrus connected with Arnold on a 14 yard pass on the next play to pick up the Trojan’s first, first down of the game and move the ball to the 35. Arnold picked up another first down with a ten yard run on the very next play. Arnold moved the ball into the redzone on a six yard run, but the Metter defense got their feet under them and dug in. Omari Arnold only managed to pick up two yards on the second down play, and Nitavion Burrus was tackled for a one yard loss on third down to bring up fourth down and three. The Trojans decided to go for it on fourth down. Burrus threw the ball to Devin Edwards.The pass hit Edwards in the hands, but he tried to tip toe and stay in bounds and dropped the pass in the process. The incompletion resulted in a turnover on downs and would give the Tigers the ball back at the 18 yard line.
The Trojan defense showed how tough a night it was going to be on this drive, stifling Metter’s potent rushing attack and only allowing the Tigers to move the ball three yards before punting the ball away on fourth down. Taj Hobbs stayed on the field to handle the punting duties. Hobbs got off a 32 yard punt over midfield and downed at the 47 yard line where Brooks County would take over.
The Trojans alternated run plays and pass plays to drive the ball downfield. Nitavion Burrus connected with Devin Edwards on passes of six and 20 yards, while he and Omari Arnold mixed in short runs to keep the defense guessing. The Trojans drove the ball down to the 16 yard line where they were facing a third down and six. Nitavion Burrus completed a pass to Raquan Manning around the five yard line, and he ran it down to the goal line. He had one Tiger defender to get past to score, but as he cut back to the inside the ball was knocked loose right on the goal line. Metter’s CJ Donaldson ran over, grabbed up the loose ball, and returned it 34 yards before he was brought down. The Tiger offense would take over at their 34.
Taj Hobbs led the Metter offense back out to get things going. The Tigers went to the ground attack, and the running backs were grinding out tough runs. Aaron Collins started the drive with a three yard run, and was followed by Antwan Coney on a four yard run. On third and three, the Brooks County defense jumped offsides and gave the Tigers an easy first down. Ahmod Collins was stopped for a one yard loss to bring up second down and 11. This time it was Metter that jumped early and would be backed up five yards making it second down and 16 when the first quarter came to an end.
The second quarter began with Taj Hobbs hooking up with running back Ahmod Collins on a 33 yard pass play to pick up a first down and move the ball over the 50 all the way down to the 27 yard line. Antwan Coney and Ahmod Collins combined on three tough runs to pick up another first down and move the ball to the 17. All three backs got a carry on three consecutive plays to move the ball inside the ten yard line, but on fourth down and two yards to go, the ball came loose. The Brooks County defense scooped up the loose ball and returned it eight yards. The Trojans had kept the Tigers out of the endzone and gave the ball back to their offense at the 17 yard line.
The Trojan offense came out and went back to the balanced attack they had been working so far, Quarterback Nitavion Burrus connecting on short passes and Omari Arnold running the ball for good yardage. The Trojans moved the ball out to the 44 yard line but on third down six, TJ Davis ran Burrus down in the back field for a sack and a six yard loss to bring up fourth down and 12 and force a punt. Joaquinn Dawson came on to punt the ball away. Dawson got the kick off, but the Metter defense, in an attempt to block the kick, ran into the punter and the flags came out. A 15 yard roughing the kicker penalty would give Brooks County the first down and keep the drive alive.
The Trojans would not be able to take advantage of this mistake as they were only able to move the ball a total of two yards on the next three plays before being forced to punt once again. Joaquinn Dawson came back out to punt the ball and this time got off a clean kick. Metter’s Danny Cheley fielded the kick at the 13 yard line, but he was corralled immediately and fell forward for a three yard return. Metter would take the ball over at their own 16 yardline.
Unfortunately, on just the second play of the drive, the hand-off between Taj Hobbs and Kaliq Collins was not clean and the ball fell to the turf. Brooks County fell on the loose ball at the 19 yard line, and the Trojan offense would take over with a short field in front of them and about a minute remaining in the first half. It would take the Trojans only three plays to take advantage of the turnover. Nitavion Burrus kept the ball himself on the first two plays with runs of 13 and two yards to get the ball down inside the five yard line to the four. On the third play he found Willie Brown in the front right corner of the endzone. Brown made a great catch as he was falling down just inside the pylon to score the touchdown. Regan Chaistain kicked the extra point through the uprights, and with just 26 seconds remaining until halftime, Brooks County took a slim 7-6 lead.
Metter would get the ball back one more time before the half, but they would only run one play and let the clock tick off and take the game to the halftime break.
The Tigers would receive the kick to start the second half. Regan Chaistain kicked the ball directly off the turf on a line drive squib kick. The kick hit the leg of Aaron Collins and caromed back towards the kicking team. Jackson Longgrear made a heads up play and fell on the loose ball to keep the ball in Metter’s possession. The Metter offense would have the ball at the 34 yard line. The Tigers were quickly helped out by Brooks County as they jumped offsides on the first play to make it first and five but, even with the help, the Tigers couldn’t pick up a first down. Aaron Collins started things with a two yard run. Antwan Coney was stopped for no gain on second down, and an incomplete pass on third down meant the Tigers would have to punt on fourth down and three. Taj Hobbs was only able to get off a 19 yard punt, so Brooks County would have the ball at the 40 yard line to start their first drive of the second half.
The Trojans were not able to move the ball on this drive. In fact, due to two five yards penalties and the tough Metter defense, they would net a negative seven yard loss on this drive before being forced to punt. Joaquinn Dawson came out to punt and he got off a 25 yard kick over midfield that rolled dead at the 42 yard line where the Tiger offense would take over.
Metter was flagged for an illegal formation on the first play of this drive, and they were put behind schedule right away. The Tigers picked up ten yards on runs of six and four yards by Aaron Collins and Ahmod Collins, but were still facing third down and five. They were flagged once again for a false start and backed up five yards making it third down and ten. Taj Hobbs could not complete his pass to Aaron Collins, so the Tigers would be forced to punt on fourth down from the 42 yard line, the exact same spot they had taken over possession. Delay of game was called on the Tigers before they could line up to punt, so they were backed up another five yards to the 37. Taj Hobbs got the punt off and, as all the players gathered around the punt returner, the ball came down and hit directly off the helmet of a Brooks County player. The ball careened forward to the 19 yard line where the Metter Tigers were able to fall on it and retain possession of the ball.
The Tigers picked up two yards on the first play, but they were flagged for an illegal formation again and pushed back out of the redzone. Following an incomplete pass and a three yard run, the Tigers found themselves facing fourth and ten from the same spot they had recovered the muffed punt return. Metter decided to attempt a field goal and sent out Zach Davis to try and put three points on the board. Davis set his holder up on the 27 yard line making this a 37 yard attempt, but unfortunately, the kick was low and left and did not make it through the uprights resulting in a turnover on downs.
The Brooks County Trojans would take the ball over at their own twenty yard line. The Trojan offense came out with a different look. Offensively, they switched to a wildcat offense, lining the running back up at the quarterback spot to take direct snaps. This change in formation would prove to be a very successful move and paid off immediately. On the third play of the drive Omari Arnold took the direct snap and ran up the middle along the left hash marks. Once he got into the secondary, he cut over the right hash marks and made his way to the far sideline. Arnold followed his blockers and broke into the open field. Streaking down the sideline, he shook off one tackle and carried the ball 71 yards into the endzone for the score. Following the Regan Chaistain extra point, the Trojans extended their lead to 6-14 and the momentum moved to the Trojans.
The kick-off by Chaistain was another squib kick that Metter’s Cole McCranie caught on the bounce and fell straight down giving the Tiger offense the ball near mid field at the 48.
The offense would come out knowing they needed to answer to keep the game close. The Tigers started the drive with a short pass to Ahmod Collins, picking up two yards. Ahmod followed that up with back to back runs of four and seven yards to pick up a first down and move the ball into Trojan territory down to the 39. A run for no gain by Taj Hobbs would be the last play of the third quarter, and the game would move into the fourth quarter with the Tigers driving.
The first play of the fourth quarter was a 13 yard pass from Taj Hobbs to Cameron Robinson to pick up another first down and get the ball to the 26 yard line. Ahmod Collins carried the ball for four yards on first and ten. On second down Aaron Collins rumbled up the gut for 17 yards to pick up a first down and get the ball to the five yard line. On first and goal from the five the handoff went to Ahmod Collins. Ahmod was hit at the line, and it appeared the play was over and the runner was down, but a Brooks County defender stripped the ball out. None of the players really reacted; everyone was looking at the referee waiting on a whistle or a signal, but nothing came. Once the players realized the ball was still live, they tackled the Trojan player at the 11 yard line. No amount of arguing could change the call, so the Trojans would have the ball at the 11 yard line.
Brooks County stuck with the wildcat formation and Omari Arnold took snap after snap and ran it at will. He single handedly drove the ball over midfield and down to the Tiger 37 before back to back penalties slowed the drive and pushed the ball back over the 50, back into Brooks County territory. Nitavion Burrus came back out to take the snaps in the long yardage situations. Burrus wouldn’t have to do any of the work however, he just handed it off to the big 225 pound power back James Huewitt. Huewitt ran the ball on three straight runs of 11, 10, and 14 yards, dragging multiple Tiger defenders on his back along the way. The three big runs dug the Trojans out of the first and 25 hole and moved the ball all the way down to the 18 yard line. On the very next play Nitavion Burrus connected with Raquan Manning on an 18 yard touchdown pass, and with just under five minutes remaining in the game, this one would prove to be the score that put things out of reach. Following the extra point kick by Regan Chaistain, the Brooks County lead now stood at 6-21.
The Trojans would kick the ball back to Metter, and Antwan Coney fielded the kick at the 22 yard line. Coney would return it 20 yards out to the 42, great field position to start a must score drive. With time ticking away, and the success Brooks County had slowing the rushing attack, the Tiger offense was forced to throw the ball. Taj Hobbs’ first pass was incomplete. On second down Hobbs was sacked in the backfield for a ten yard loss. Another incompletion on third down brought up fourth down and 20 yards to go. The Tigers went deep into the play book and tried the “Hook and Ladder” play that worked so well in the Jeff Davis game. Taj Hobbs completed the first half of the play throwing a pass to Cameron Robinson, but Robinson was dragged down before he could lateral the ball off, and the Tigers would turn it over on downs at the 38 yard line.
Brooks County had all the momentum by this point, and they would take advantage of the short field. Nitavion Burrus found Willie Brown on the first play for a 21 yard pass and catch to pick up a first down and get the ball inside the redzone. Burrus would keep the ball himself on the next three plays, runs of ten, three, and four yards, with the final four yard run being a touchdown. Following the Regan Chaistain extra point, the Trojans extended their lead to 6-28 with just 1:41 remaining in the game, and the fans started heading for the exits.
Following the kickoff and no return, the Tigers would have the ball at the 38 yard line. The Tigers would be forced to take to the air again, just hoping to put some points on the board late. Taj Hobbs completed a seven yard pass to Cameron Robinson on first down. On second down, Hobbs was sacked for a five yard loss bringing up third down and eight. Hobbs’ third down pass was intercepted at the 45 yard line by Ernest Whitfield. Whitfield was able to weave his way through the Metter tacklers and return the interception back for a touchdown. This one was just salt on an open wound, and following the PAT by Chaistain the lead was now 6-35 with just 47 seconds remaining.
The Tigers would get the ball back one last time, but just long enough to run one play and let the clock expire. The sound of the final horn ended the Tigers playoff run as well as the 2019 season, but what a season it was. Eleven wins and a Region championship make for a special season that people will talk about for weeks to come, not to mention a great foundation to build off of next season as the Tigers compete at the Single A classification, a classification that many will agree is more fitting for a school the size of Metter.
As always we caught up with Coach of the Year Rodney Garvin for his thoughts following the difficult loss. “Offensively, we were held in check all night. We committed too many penalties and turnovers to win a big game, yet we were still in it in the fourth quarter. Mid way through the fourth quarter we drove to their five yard line. Down only 14-6, we lost another fumble and then Brooks County sealed it with a 90 yard long TD drive to go up 21-6.
“Defensively, Ahmod Collins led all tacklers with 10 tackles and Elijah Dekle added 8 tackles. We send off our seniors with a Region 2AA championship and an 11-2 season. TJ Davis, Ahmod Collins, Walker Dollar, Austin Carlyle, Rashad Alvin, Elijah Oglesby, Elijah Dekle, Bishop Jarrell, Hudson Poole, Cory Durden and Jared Jordan will all be missed.
“I want to thank the entire Metter community for their incredible support this season for our players and coaches.”