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Bobcats heading to the playoffs

Phil Campbell’s leading rusher for the night, Tristan Godsey, dashes down the field. Photo by Bart Moss.
Phil Campbell’s leading rusher for the night, Tristan Godsey, dashes down the field. Photo by Bart Moss.

By Bart Moss

For the FCT

It’s been a long time coming, but the Phil Campbell Bobcats are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 after beating the Cherokee Indians 13-6 this past Friday.

When something has been denied to you for so long, regaining it is not easy.

Two hours before kickoff Friday night, a strong thunderstorm rolled through Phil Campbell dumping a lot of rain. The wet, soggy field yielded several mishandled snaps, fumbles, dropped passes and poor footing.

When conditions deteriorate that rapidly, defenses have to step up and that’s what the Phil Campbell defense did. The Bobcats held the Cherokee Indians to a staggering three first downs and four total yards in the game.

That’s right – four total yards.

The Indians only netted nine rushing yards and were limited to minus five passing yards.

“Offensively it was a sloppy game,” second-year coach Ryan Swinney said.

“We made the plays we needed to make to win the game but it wasn’t pretty. Our defense played a great game – the best we’ve played all year. They really stepped it up a notch tonight.

“I’m so proud of this team. We’ve come a long way from where we were last year at this time. There is no quit in this bunch. Making the playoffs is a great reward for all the hard work these guys have put in this summer and during the season.”

The game was scoreless through practically all of the first half until Cherokee intercepted a Bobcat pass and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown, giving the Indians a 6-0 lead heading into the locker room.

Phil Campbell scored their first touchdown with 5:45 to go in the third quarter on a 15-yard run by Tristan Godsey.  A penalty set the Bobcats back 15 yards on the extra point and they were unable to convert, making it a tie game.

With less than four minutes remaining in the game, the Bobcats faced a critical fourth and one from the Cherokee 26 yard line. Godsey made his way around the left side of his offensive line and found two yards for the first down.

Two plays later, Godsey scored the go-ahead touchdown from two yards out to give the Bobcats the a 12-6 lead. Joe Hardy added the point after to make the score 13-6 with 3:02 to go in the game.

The celebration was short-lived, however, as Cherokee took the ensuing kickoff 72 yards to the endzone. But an illegal block in the back several yards behind the play nullified the touchdown and brought the Indians back to the Bobcat 43-yard line.

Cherokee threw four straight incomplete passes giving the ball back to Phil Campbell with just over two minutes to play.

The Bobcats still couldn’t put the game away going four and out and giving Cherokee had one last chance to tie the game.

The Indians tried a reverse pass but the Bobcats Justin Baker picked off the pass to finally put the game away and propel Phil Campbell to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

Godsey had 15 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns on the night.

The win improved Phil Campbell’s record to 4-4 on the season and 3-2 in the region.

The Bobcats will travel to Sulligent Friday night for their final region contest.