After East Paulding High School cut the Dalton High School football team's lead to a touchdown early in the fourth quarter Friday, the Catamounts used a successful fake punt as a springboard to a closing 21-0 run and concluded first-year head coach Kit Carpenter's inaugural season with a 49-21 victory.

Dalton finished last season 2-7 and concluded the 2021 season 2-8 (1-6 in Region 6-3A).

In the season finale, Warner Ross took the direct snap as an up-man and converted the 4th-and-4 near midfield with 9:11 remaining, and then senior Brady Pendley hit fellow senior Journey Boston streaking down the sidelines on a pump-and-go route for a 23-yard touchdown and a 35-21 advantage with 7:44 left. On the ensuing drive, Bannon Phelan sacked Baylor Thomason and stripped him of the ball, with Austin Fischer recovering on East Paulding's 19 yard line.

"Not often do you know it's your last game, and Harmon Field is a special place," said Carpenter. "The seniors have led this whole season, and I'm really happy for them."

Running back Tyson Greenwade made sure Dalton didn't waste the turnover, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown with 5:44 remaining, and he added a 38-yarder with 2:31 left to put an exclamation point on the victory.

The Raiders "stack the line, so I knew it would be tough, but the offensive line had a great game," said Greenwade, who rushed for 124 yards on 18 carries. "I'm really enjoying this win, and seeing all the seniors go out with a win."

"The seniors have set a great example for us," said Greenwade, who closed his junior season with a four-touchdown game. "They would not quit."

"This season was tough," with "so many close (losses), but this win helps a lot," said Pendley, who hit 18 of 26 for 316 yards in his final game. "It's really important, because it shows how far we've come and where we're going in the future."

In Friday's Region 6-3A matchup, the Raiders rode running back Justin Williams inside the 10 on their second drive, but the Catamounts stopped Williams on 4th-and-goal from the 2 to keep the game scoreless through one quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, however, Pendley's 62-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Karim Page — who had five catches for 104 yards in the game — put the Catamounts on the scoreboard and concluded a 99-yard drive.

Boston — who had seven catches for 165 yards and a pair of scores — made a terrific play on an under-thrown ball to set up Greenwade's 4-yard touchdown run with 8:22 remaining before halftime, but the Raiders continued to pound Dalton with the ground game, like a boxer working body shots, to again drive into the red zone, and Thomason's 11-yard touchdown pass to Jovan Sherden cut the margin to 14-7 with 5:05 left in the half.

Dalton responded quickly, however, as Boston was wide open down the seam and scored on a 35-yard touchdown reception from Pendley less than two minutes later.

"They send a lot and blitz a lot," Pendley said. "We knew if we got the ball out quick," opportunities to strike would present.

The Raiders (2-8 this year, 1-6 in Region 6-3A) took momentum into halftime, as the Catamounts failed on 4th-and-1 from their own 45 with 69 seconds remaining, and Williams — who rushed for 197 yards on 25 carries Friday — ran for a touchdown on the next play. The Raiders managed 192 yards on the ground in the first half, while Dalton threw for 248 yards.

The Catamounts, who had an extra day to rest and prepare after playing last week Thursday instead of Friday, scored on their first drive of the second half, with a Greenwade run from three yards out increasing the margin to 28-14 with 6:09 left in the third quarter. The Catamounts, who lost at Paulding County last week by one point on a final-play field goal, also stopped East Paulding's fourth down attempt from Dalton's 38 on the next drive, as Andy Atangana broke up a pass intended for Chase Ott.

Pendley, however, was intercepted by Cullen Miles off a deflection on the next play, and Thomason later scrambled to his left — after originally rolling right — for a 9-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 28-21 11:09 left in the game, but that was as close as the Raiders would get.

Pendley will miss "all the friends and family" in football, he said. "This is a brotherhood."

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