Week 9 saw Northwest Whitfield claim sole possession of Sub-Region 7A-4A with a 14-3 win at Sequoyah, Dalton clinch its 50th consecutive winning season with a 35-21 win over Rome, Southeast pull out a Sub-region 6A-3A win, 20-17, at LaFayette and Murray County lose to a winless Cass team, 34-10.

Dalton

• THUMBS UP: Former players have admitted a feeling of relief when clinching a winning season to preserve Dalton’s streak, so there’s obviously at least a little pressure/responsibility associated with the feat — and certainly for the group that was trying to reach No. 50. So they deserve credit for handling those emotions against Rome, along with feeling the need to win to get in good shape for the region playoffs. The Cats also adjusted to playing on a Thursday night after learning they’d be doing so just the day before.

Tre Beck’s nearly 300 rushing yards were proof of both his talent in the open field and the rest of the team’s ability to block so he can get there. Linebacker Blake Raber showed great effort while stopping Reggie Whatley on a two-point conversion run in the first quarter. Jose Garcia shook off missing an early field goal and came back to convert five PATs and get touchbacks on three kickoffs while putting another inside the 10. Trae Washington broke up a pass in the end zone on third-and-seven late in the second quarter, forcing Rome into its second missed field goal of the half. After the Wolves cut Dalton’s lead to 28-21 with 8:34 to play, Chris White had a great kickoff return to put the Cats on Rome’s 38, where they started a touchdown drive that created some much-needed space on the scoreboard.

• THUMBS DOWN: The Cats defense had a couple nice bend-don’t-break moments during the game, but they can’t be happy about giving up 261 yards to Rome fullback Deonte Dennis, who had a 77-yard touchdown run to the outside early, then powered his way through the middle for big chunks the rest of the night. Rushers who keep their legs pumping have caused tackling problems for the Cats throughout the season, and they’ll need to figure out a way to get better at that to qualify for the state playoffs and make a good run if they get there.

Northwest

• THUMBS UP: To the Bruins defense for holding Sequoyah to only a field goal. Northwest was able to soften the impact of Chiefs running back Dominique Swope’s return by keeping him out of the end zone. Swope still rushed for 138 yards on 19 carries, and had several runs of 15 yards or more. But there was always a Bruins defender to stop him from breaking a huge run like those from Northwest’s Lance Andrews (51-yard touchdown and 60-yard run).

Brein Bush was all over the field, batting down several passes and intercepting a pass with a minute in the fourth quarter to seal the win and Nermin Delic had another sack.

The Bruins’ defense also recovered a fumble on their own 14 to end Sequoyah’s best scoring opportunity in the second quarter.

• THUMBS DOWN: To consistency in the passing game. Had it not been for Andrews’ two long runs, the Bruins would have had a hard time scoring. The Bruins only threw the ball five times for 18 yards and one of those passes was intercepted while just two were completed.

Murray County

• THUMBS UP: The Indians did a nice job of seizing the moment early in the game as they took a turnover and needed just two big plays — one a great throw by Taylor Patterson and a great catch by Austin Williams, who have handled nicely a flip-flop of their roles on the team since midseason — to reach the end zone. Zac Dills, who scored that touchdown on a 22-yard run, had a couple other solid gains as he averaged more than 5 yards per carry against Cass.

Luke Mealer had two nice catches, one for 23 yards and another for 16, in addition to his defensive duties; he was also one of several Indians who took a hard enough hit during the game to require a visit from the team’s trainer and assistance walking off the field, but despite being light on the scale, he’s played big this year while taking on those collisions. Rey Hernandez, a senior kicker, showed he has plenty of leg with a 45-yard field goal that kept the Indians close, at 14-10, through two quarters.

On defense, the Indians did a nice job of scooping up the ball, recovering three of four fumbles by the Colonels — Tyler Bowling, Jake White and Dills each had one. They also did a good job of getting into the backfield at times, as Cass lost yardage on eight running plays.

• THUMBS DOWN: On both sides of the ball, the passing game hurt Murray County, which has leaned more heavily on throwing as the season has gone on — correctly, it would seem, as the running game yielded just 29 yards on 18 carries against Cass — but this time the Indians didn’t make the type of progress they had mostly shown each week. Patterson was intercepted for a touchdown and lost the ball on a fumble on successive possessions, and as the centerpiece of the offense he has to take care of the ball better.

In terms of penalties, the Indians began to match the sloppiness of Cass as the game went on; both teams combined for more than 20 flags and nearly 200 yards assessed. The Indians didn’t play their best on a night when they had one of their best chances to pick up a sub-region victory, and that might be the biggest disappointment of all.

Southeast

• THUMBS UP: Sticking to the game plan. The small contingent of Southeast fans who made the 35-mile trip to LaFayette may have been perplexed by the lack of aerial acumen on offense. After all, entering the game quarterback Tanner McCutchen had already topped the 1,000 yard passing mark. He completed two passes. McCutchen kept handing the ball off and calling his own number on the ground, even when the Raider offense didn’t score in the first half. But head coach David Crane was patient. He wanted to chew up clock — something a heavy passing offense often has trouble doing — and keep LaFayette’s offensive playmakers on the sideline. McCutchen and sophomore running back Coty Burch eventually took over the game. Burch ripped off three runs of more than 44 yards (52, 44, 45) while McCutchen picked up several key first downs. The two combined for 301 yards rushing on 30 carries.

• THUMBS DOWN: Defensive lapses. The Raider defense only gave up one huge play — a 66-yard touchdown pass — but was out of position or ran past plays several times. Players also had a difficult time making the tackle on first contact. LaFayette quarterback Josh Morgan was able to find open receivers most of the night, often on easy sit-down or curl routes. Morgan completed 24 of the 38 passes he attempted. The defense got pressure on Morgan, but was inconsistent in doing so. Defensive end Mickey Guerrero was a terror, amassing at least three tackles for a loss and picking off a Morgan pass and returning it 56 yards for a touchdown.

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