It was an up and down season for the Cass Colonels, but the team certainly ended the year on high note.
“Holy smokes, what a tribute to our kids,” Cass head coach Bobby Hughes said in the wake of Cass’ 51-25 victory over Paulding County. “You’re sitting at this point in the season, the kids could have mailed it in. But we challenged them a week ago and they busted their butts.”
With the dominant road victory, Cass concludes the 2019 season with a 4-6 final record and a 3-5 region record.
The bulk of Cass’ points came off a stellar rushing attack, which saw David Gbadie conclude the contest with an unofficial 171 yards on 18 carries — and with them, three trips to the end zone.
Meanwhile, Tanayce Calhoun unofficially had 94 yards on eight rushing attempts and two touchdowns — one as a receiver and one on a defensive pick-6. Zay Jackson also had a tremendous showing, collecting an unofficial 62 yard on eight carries and one touchdown reception.
Triston Mize didn’t throw often, but when he did, it was good for six on the board, wrapping up the final Colonels contest of the year with two touchdown zips.
Despite the lopsided final score, it didn’t take long for the Patriots’ offense to get rolling. On the very first play of the game, Paulding County torched the Colonels’ defense on an 80-yard touchdown pass.
Cass, however, was quick to respond. Relying almost exclusively on Gbadie, the Colonels quickly marched down from the team’s own 38 to the Paulding County 19, where the talented junior running back punched the pigskin in to make it a 7-7 ballgame.
The Patriots instantly responded. On the very first play of the team’s next possession, Paulding County recorded a humongous 89-yard touchdown run to regain the lead.
The Colonels went three-and-out on the next possession, but the Cass D held steady and forced the Patriots to go three-and-out on the team’s next possession.
Cass maintained possession for the remainder of the quarter, relying on the rushing trio of Gbadie, Calhoun and Jackson to push down to the Paulding County 18.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, junior kicker Kaleb Speights booted a 31-yard field goal to make it 14-10, Patriots.
Sophomore linebacker Garrett Gonyea sacked the Paulding County quarterback for a big loss on the Patriots’ next drive. On the very next play, Calhoun intercepted the pass and returned it for an easy pick-6. The defensive score allowed the Colonels to retake the lead, 17-14.
Paulding County made it down to the Cass 9 on the team’s next possession. The Patriots made good on a 23-yard field goal to tie the game with about two minutes left in the quarter.
Cass almost experienced a gridiron catastrophe on the first play of the Colonels’ next possession, with a bobbled pass nearly resulting in a turnover.
On a third-and-15 situation, the Colonels pulled off a picture-perfect reversal, with Calhoun blasting off for a 49-yard gain. Two plays later, Gbadie recorded his second score of the game — this one a 21-yard rushing touchdown that gave Cass a 24-17 lead heading into halftime.
“It was just a contrast of styles,” Hughes said. "They jumped on us quick with two really big plays, but we didn’t panic; we didn’t freak out. We kept playing and I think we controlled the line of scrimmage.”
With control of the ball to begin the third quarter, Cass continued to run the ball down Paulding County’s throat, with Gbadie capping off the drive with a stellar 20-yard touchdown run.
After the Cass defense forced a three-and-out, Gbadie ripped off a thundering 53-yard run to set Mize up for a touchdown lob to Jackson from about two yards out. And on the very next play, Jackson intercepted the Patriots and took the ball all the way to the house on a 50-yard-plus pick-6.
The effective smashmouth play from Cass continued in the fourth quarter, with Mize tagging Calhoun on a 3-yard touchdown strike to make the score 51-17 Cass.
While Paulding County would score with about three minutes left, it certainly wasn’t enough for the Patriots to stage a comeback. Rather, the Colonels’ defense stood tall, and Cass walked off the field with 51-25 victory.
“They came out here and did everything we asked them to do,” Hughes said. “That’s about as dominant a performance as we’ve had in a while, and I’m really happy for these kids, especially the seniors.”