The loss ended the state playoff hopes of the Tigers, who had qualified as the No. 3 seed in Region 5-AAA.
“We knew it was a big challenge coming up here,” head coach Eric Bishop said. “It seemed like it was an uphill battle the whole game, from trying to overcome some obstacle on every exchange, be it offense or defense.”
Still, he said, the Tigers did not let up and a couple of well-timed breaks would have changed the complexion of the contest.
“Our kids fought. That’s what I told them at the end of the game,” he said. “I am proud of them. White County is a good football team but the score is not indicative of how well our kids played tonight. I feel bad for them from that sense but we kept trying to answer, kept trying to answer.”
One of those obstacles was Dalton Whitfield, the Warriors’ power runner and all-around player.
Whitfield scored three touchdowns for the Warriors as he carried the ball 27 times for 248 yards while personally stopping the Tigers’ from advancing in this year’s playoffs, the third time in a row Adairsville has made an appearance.
It is a string that Bishop hopes to continue and he challenged his Tigers to reach deep within themselves in the next year and give their best to help Adairsville “get to the next level.”
The Tigers started out like they were going to reach the next level against White County.
Adairsville scored the first time it got the ball, putting a touchdown on the scoreboard via an 8-yard run by quarterback Marcus Childers.
Dakota Hines added the PAT, the first of four he would make on the night, and the Bartow school broke on top, 7-0.
However, White County was quick to answer, as they moved quickly to knot the game at 7-7 with about five minutes gone from the first-quarter clock.
The Tigers responded just as quickly. Adairsville was sent pedaling back into the end zone by the ensuing kick and had to start its second drive from the 20-yard line.
That’s when Austin Harris took a Childers handoff and ripped around the right side for an 80-yard touchdown that led to a 14-7 lead for his Tigers at the 6:37 mark of the first frame.
White once again answered quickly, this time after taking possession at its 45 after a short kick by the Tigers. Two plays later the Warriors scored on a 35-yard touchdown run, knotting the score.
Both teams failed to score on their next drives, but the Warriors advanced the ball to the 2-yard-line and fumbled it into the end zone.
Adairsville started at their 20 but failed to the move the ball past its 22. There, they tried a fake punt but ended up surrendering the ball to White County at the 26. It took the Warriors six plays to take a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter.
Adairsville caught a break the next drive when a failed onside kick set them up in business at the 46 with a short field. Childers advanced the ball to the 44 and Tristin Smith did the rest with a run off tackle that tied the score at 21-all with 10:20 remaining until the break.
Both teams drove the ball the next two series but Adairsville put the ball on the ground with three and a half minutes to lead to the next score.
White County capitalized on that break and scored with 11 seconds remaining in the period, as the Warriors took a 27-21 lead at the half.
White County picked right up offensively after the break and took 10 plays to move to a 33-21 lead. The Warriors added a successful two-point try and moved to 35-21.
Midway in the fourth quarter, the Warriors tacked on a 23-yard field goal and held a 38-21 lead with 7:27 remaining in the game.
Adairsville responded the next series when Childers connected with Harris on a 39-yard touchdown pass, to close to 38-28.
White County answered with another touchdown to go up 45-28, then intercepted a tipped Adairsville pass late and returned it 81 yards to finish scoring on the evening.
The head Tiger said Adairsville came up short but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“I was really proud of how we played,” Bishop said.
Bishop said Harris really stepped up his play for the Tigers and running back Tristin Smith “pounded the Warriors like a sledge hammer” in his final game as a Tiger.