PULASKI, Tenn. — When given the opportunities late in its Class 4A state quarterfinal matchup Friday night, Giles County made the plays it needed to make. Given similar opportunities, East Hamilton did not.
In the end, that was the only difference between the two.
The host Bobcats' Al Cobb scored on a touchdown run with 3:24 remaining, and Giles stopped the Hurricanes in the red zone in the final moments to preserve a 22-16 victory at Sam Davis Park. Giles, top-ranked in 4A, will host Fulton in the state semifinals next week.
The Hurricanes finish their season 11-2. Their defense forced three turnovers and limited the high-octane Giles attack to 327 yards.
"That's a good football team, and we knew that coming in," East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood said. "They're No. 1 for a reason. They made plays when they had to, and in playoff time you have to do that. It's a tribute to them, because they've been there before and know what it's like."
The visitors held a 16-14 lead after Matt Milita scored on a 22-yard screen pass from Hunter Moore, but they were whistled for four personal-foul penalties, plus a defensive-holding call in the secondary on Giles' next two drives. The combined 70 yards in penalties finally took its toll in the Bobcats' final possession, as Cobb completed a 12-yard pass to Peyton Oliver before calling his own number on the go-ahead plunge.
"East Hamilton is the most physical team we've faced all year," Cobb said. "We just kept fighting, but I have to give credit to God; it wasn't just us out there on the field."
Cobb finished with 87 yards rushing and 170 passing, with two scores on the ground and one through the air.
After the go-ahead score, Moore drove the Hurricanes downfield. He made a fourth-down completion to Tony Francois, then added a 12-yard run. Milita followed with a 16-yard run to take the ball to the Giles County 10, but three plays later Moore was stripped and Giles recovered the fumble to end the game.
The stout Hurricanes rushing attack was limited to 131 yards, 27 in the second half. Moore finished 11-for-25 for 144 yards, with Francois catching four passes for 74 yards.
Milita finished with 90 yards rushing, including a 56-yard run for the game's first score.
"I'm proud of the kids. It's their fourth year of school, but they're not satisfied," Gatewood said. "You can look and tell they're not satisfied.
"We're going to get better, and we have to keep working and trying to get better."