WATERTOWN — A chilly evening with plenty of humidity framed a perfect fall Friday, as two teams who are familiar with each other and the venue met for the third straight year.
Watertown has hosted Region 4-2A rival Trousdale County in each of the previous two playoffs and came up short both times. They did have the regular season win this year, a 9-7 slugfest in Hartsville.
For the third straight year, the end result was the same as Trousdale County left Watertown after a win, holding on for a 21-13 victory in the Class 2A quarterfinals.
The first half felt like a defensive struggle, but a 14-7 score at the break had already surpassed the total from that Sept. 4 meeting. Watertown struck first on a solid drive punctuated by a sharp pass and catch over the middle to Quanterrius Hughes-Malone.
On the Jackets’ next drive, Trousdale County deployed an array of running backs and Cameron Rankins stormed into the end zone to tie it. The second quarter saw punts exchanged, a turnover on downs, and then a methodical drive by Trousdale County that bled the clock down to the final 30 seconds of the half. Rankins found the end zone, and the half ended with the Jackets leading and receiving the ball to start the second half, though they were without Jayden Hicks, down with an injury suffered early in the game.
The Yellow Jackets had won the previous two playoff matchups, and in front of a crowd that was close to even as any playoff game you could expect, had the task of defending a lead in the second half. That task was tested as both teams scored on their first possession of the half, with the Tigers missing their extra point. Trousdale County was utilizing a direct snap to Cameron Rankins as a way to go without their standard signal-caller.
The play of the game was a fourth-and-goal for Watertown, down by eight. A pushy defense forced Brayden Cousino into one of his only errors of the night, but it was a costly one. Rankins intercepted the pass, and that sealed the game for the Yellow Jackets for their third straight win at Watertown in the playoffs.
“All year, this is what we’ve been waiting for,” Rankins said. “We knew after that first time we lost to them, what it would take to beat them.”
Rankins was given a game ball for his efforts.
Trousdale County has “one rock left in the road” to Cookeville, as Meigs County will visit in Friday’s semifinals on the creekbank.
Head coach Blake Satterfield probably pointed it out best.
“It’s always great to be playing on Thanksgiving weekend.”