VARNELL -- After the first two drives for Adairsville High School ended in touchdowns Friday night, the Coahulla Creek defense didn't let Adairsville's offense score for the rest of the night.
While the Colt defense solidified on their home field, the offense couldn't put itself together enough to threaten the Tigers late in a Region 6-3A tilt. That, combined with a special teams score for the Tigers, put Coahulla Creek too far behind.
Adairsville (5-1, 3-1 Region 6-3A) went scoreless in the second half, but held on to defeat the Colts (4-3, 2-3 Region 6-3A) 20-10.
"I'm proud of the way our kids played hard. We're past that point," Creek head coach Danny Wilson said. "We're not to the point yet to where we're limiting our mistakes to give us a chance to win against a really good team."
The setback for Coahulla Creek was a tough one in the region playoff race as the Colts hope to reach the playoffs for the first time in program history. The Colts are 2-3 in the region with three to go, including a matchup with undefeated Ringgold.
Coahulla Creek's first two offensive drives of the night ended after just three plays as the Adairsville offense sparked early, mainly thanks to Chris Roper.
Roper took a reverse handoff 18 yards for the score on the opening Tiger drive, then converted a fake punt for 17 yards on the next possession. A 28-yard tightroping run down the sideline put Adairsville up 13-0 as the Tigers scored their last offensive points of the night midway through the first.
Then, the Colt offense hit for a first down for the first time all night, a 43-yard deep bomb from quarterback Kace Kinnamon to Justin Baker that set Coahulla Creek up inside the Adairsville 20.
After that, the Colts were stuffed on fourth-and-one at the 11 yard line and surrendered the best scoring threat yet.
After forcing a couple of Adairsville punts but then failing to produce much yardage, Coahulla Creek got another big-play spark when Will Bates fell on a Tiger fumble at midfield with two minutes before half.
The best Colt drive so far at that point in the game ended with a 33-yard Logan Fowler field goal to cut the score to 13-3 with 32 seconds left before half.
That score could have sent the Colts into the locker room facing a deficit, but with plenty of positives that could point toward a second-half comeback.
But Roper had other ideas.
He grabbed the kickoff at the Adairsville 15, jetted through a hole, made a Colt defender miss and sprinted to the end zone for the score.
Adairsville led 20-3 at half.
The Tigers not named Chris Roper couldn't muster many big plays on offense, defense or special teams.
Roper carried seven times for 85 yards to go with his 85-yard kickoff return.
After halftime, the Colts did all they could to help kickstart a comeback, only allowing one Adairsville drive that threatened to end in points. Instead, a bad snap on a field goal attempt forced the Adairsville kicker to try to create a play, but Coahulla Creek snuffed that out too.
"We played well as a unit," Wilson said of his defense. "We tackled better than we have, and that part I'm proud of."
Finally, near the end of the third, another Kinnamon-to-Baker connection got Colt fans on their feet.
Baker caught the deep pass in stride and sprinted to the Adairsville five yard line before being chased out of bounds after a gain of 63 yards. Payton Gordon plunged in on fourth-and-goal from the one to get the first Coahulla Creek touchdown on the board early in the fourth quarter.
Gordon played well as a rusher in relief of starting running back Tyler Locklear. Gordon had 58 yards and the score on 13 carries.
Kinnamon finished 12-of-20 for 170 yards. Baker caught three passes for 106 yards.
Coahulla shut down another Adairsville drive, ending it with a third-down sack, to get the ball back with 6:52 to go and down 10.
Two consecutive penalties backed Coahulla Creek up, and the Colts punted on fourth-and-very-long with five to go. The Colts got the ball back with just over a minute left, but a desperation drive ended on a fourth down stop, and Adairsville killed the remaining 20 seconds with a kneel-down.
The Colts stay in Region 6-3A next week. It's the final road game of the regular season for Coahulla Creek, which travels to LaFayette Friday. Coahulla Creek plays Ringgold and Sonoraville at home to close the season.