Jasper, Ga — It was a rare Saturday night football game as the Pickens Dragons welcomed the Ridgeland Panthers to Dragons Stadium. It was the first game for the Dragons since playing at Cedartown on October 16th. Coming into the game, Pickens was 2-4 overall and 0-1 in region play. The Ridgeland Panthers, came in with an overall record of 1-6, but tied for second place in 7-AAAA at 1-1. Traditionally, the games between Pickens and Ridgeland have been very exciting and very competitive. This one, was no different. Overcoming not having played in twenty-two days and missing some players, the Dragons came away with a 27-18 win.
Pickens, as they have for the majority of the season, won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Dragons, came out in their version of the wildcat offense to begin their opening drive with Senior running back Jarod Whitmore taking the snaps at the QB position. The opening drive ended in points for Pickens as Whitmore ran it in from 5-yds out to give the Dragons an early 7-0 lead. The defense for the Dragons did a good job in the opening quarter against what can be an explosive Panther offense. Going to the second quarter, Pickens led Ridgeland 7-0.
In the second quarter, both teams, especially the Dragons, had chances for points, but just couldn’t connect. At the 6:40 mark of the second quarter, the Panthers broke through with a 5-yd TD run. The PAT was no good and Pickens kept the lead, 7-6. The Dragons had another good chance just before the half, but we would head into the break with Pickens ahead of Ridgeland, 7-6.
The Panthers, got the ball first to start the second half and turned their first possession into points after a 50-yd TD run. the two-point conversion attempt was no good. With 10:33 left in the third, Ridgeland took the lead for the first time, 12-7. The Dragons came back with a good drive of their own as Junior Collin Kellogg, who took over at QB after the first possession of the game for Pickens, found Whitmore streaking down the middle of the field for a 28-yd TD. With 5:53 left in the third, the Dragons were back on top, 14-12. As time was running off the clock in the third, the Panthers scored on a 40-yd run. The snap on the PAT attempt was mishandled and the try was no good. Going to the fourth, Ridgeland held an 18-14 lead over Pickens.
The Dragons were down, but definitely not out as they turned their first possession of the fourth quarter into points. After a bad snap pushed Pickens from the 6-yd line to the 22-yd line, a holding penalty was called on the Dragons on their fourth down play. The penalty was accepted, and the ball was moved back, making it fourth and goal from the Ridgeland 32-yd line. Kellogg, lofted it up to the left corner of the end zone where Senior WR Mykel Hand fought two Panthers defenders and came down with it to give the Dragons the lead. With 8:51 left in the game, Pickens went ahead, 20-18. On the ensuing kickoff, and without his regular kickers, Dragons head coach Jeff Nelson decided to go for an onside. The gamble paid off as Pickens recovered it. The Dragons cashed in on the recovery as Sophomore Kadyn Hampton took it in from 20-yds out. The PAT was good, and Pickens extended their lead over the Panthers to 27-18. Needing a big play, Ridgeland turned to the passing attack. Junior Conor Browning, picked off a pass attempt, and helped seal the win for the Dragons. The final, 27-18 Pickens.
Cedartown: 6-2 (3-0)
Central-Carroll: 5-2 (1-1)
Pickens: 3-4 (1-1)
Northwest Whitfield: 6-2 (1-2)
Ridgeland: 1-7 (1-2)
Heritage: 4-4 (1-2)
Next week, the Dragons will again be at home as they welcome the Heritage Generals to Dragons Stadium. The game will be on Friday, November 13th. Kickoff is set for 7:30 in this 7-AAAA match up.