SW DeKalb Rallies to Edge Cedar Grove, 21-20
Southwest DeKalb ended a two-year drought of blowout losses versus county foe Cedar Grove with a hard-fought 21-20 come-from-behind victory in Week 2 action at Godfrey Stadium.
The Panthers trailed the entire contest until 3:07 left in the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Justin Tomlin rolled to his left and found fellow classmate Michael Pace in the back of the end zone for a 20-yard strike to even the scoreboard at 20. Southwest DeKalb booted the ensuing extra point to take the lead.
“It’s all about our late coach, Michael Tanks. We gave everything we had for him tonight,” said interim head coach Fletcher Salter. “J.T. was our X factor. He made things happen. He was unaccounted for and that’s why he did what he did. We stuck to our gameplan of playing hard football. It’s wonderful to get this win and overcome the hurdle versus them [Cedar Grove].”
Cedar Grove’s crushing loss in the waning minutes was the capped off a frustrating night full of undisciplined penalties, turnovers, a botched extra point and a scuffle that concluded with a player being ejected.
At the beginning, things looked so promising for Cedar Grove.
The Saints led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter after posting touchdowns on their opening and second possession. Junior quarterback Jelani Woods threw for one score and ran on a sneak for another to give his squad the early cushion. His touchdown through the air was a 38-yard toss to sophomore Jayden Hasselwood.
Southwest DeKalb notched its first touchdown in the second quarter when Tomlin sprinted for a 14-yard run. The Panthers missed the extra point and Cedar Grove led at the half, 14-6.
The start of the second half was delayed 30 minutes due to lightning, but once play resumed, things began to unravel for Cedar Grove.
Perhaps the turning point for the Saints occurred deep in Panthers territory. With the game tied at 14, Woods inexplicably threw an interception in the end zone to Mitchell Edwards on third-and-goal with defenders draped on his back. Although Southwest DeKalb was unable to score any points off this turnover, it created a stumbling block for the Saints and added to their lack of execution.
In the fourth quarter, Tre Shaw lost his composure and swung a punch at a Southwest DeKalb player. The officials flagged both teams for unsportsmanlike conduct and Shaw was ejected from the game.
Despite the heated engagement, Cedar Grove briefly managed to pull itself together with Grant Walker catching a short 2-yard pass for a touchdown. However, the extra point kick was off and the Saints led, 20-14.
Although the Panthers managed to march downfield to take the lead, Cedar Grove still had an opportunity for some heroics of its own.
The Saints managed to string together some first down plays and came within an eyelash of going ahead for good. However, the drive stalled inside the 10-yard line. The attempted a game-winning field goal, but the kick fell way short of the uprights as time expired.
“We made way too many mistakes. As a head coach, I have to do a better job,” said Cedar Grove’s Jermaine Smith. “We have to be able to finish and make plays.”