Douglas County and Alexander both had something riding on Friday’s regular season final game.
There were some county bragging rights but equally, or perhaps more importantly, was the region No. 2 seed and a home playoff game at stake.
The eighth-ranked Tigers did just enough to claim it.
Uriah West rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and Braelin Oliver ran for a score as Douglas County held off Alexander by a margin of 17-16 to secure the No. 2 seed in Region 5-AAAAAA on Friday at Cougar Stadium.
Mason Wood (280 passing yards) threw a pair of touchdowns to Jalen Morgan (229 receiving yards) for the Cougars, who finished fourth in the region standings and will visit Harrison in the opening round of the playoffs.
After trailing 17-3 entering the fourth quarter, Alexander (6-4, 5-3) almost fully erased that deficit. First the Cougars cut the margin in half when Wood completed a pass to Morgan, who shook off some tacklers and raced into the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown with 10:56 left to play.
Then to inch closer, Wood connected with Morgan again but this time for a 45-yard TD completion, resulting in a one-point game with 1:26 remaining. Now facing the option to tie the game with an extra point or attempt the two-point conversion, Alexander chose the latter but the Tigers (9-1, 7-1) prevented the score.
“We just didn't execute,” Alexander coach Matthew Combs said. “I've always played to win. It was not the right call and that one is on me. That ain't on the kids or no one else. I will take that one like a man.”
However, the Cougars still had a chance to successfully execute an onside kick, which they shockingly recovered at Douglas County’s 49. But Alexander’s elation would end there since Wood was penalized for intentional grounding on the next play before throwing three more incomplete passes from his own 34 and turning the ball over to the Tigers with 1:08 left.
“No I wasn't surprised they tried to go for two,” Douglas County coach Johnny White said. “I knew they were going to take a shot. I'm glad my special teams coordinator coach [Broderick] Jamison went over it in practice. That really helped out.”
Marquise Collins, who passed for 200 yards, kneeled away the remaining seconds for the victory, which also set up a meeting with Dalton next week at Jimmy Johnson Stadium.
“It’s a great thing to be able to play at home,” White said. “We got work to do though. If they believe in the process and trust us as coaches, I think we can make a run. If they want to do their own thing, this playoff run can be short lived.”
In the first half, Douglas County forced the first turnover of the game which led to the first score of the contest. Deep in the Cougars’ territory, Charles Gadie picked off Wood at the 17. Two plays later, West sprinted 13 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 edge in the opening quarter.
Following field goals by both teams, the Tigers extended their lead to double digits just before halftime when Oliver ran for a 6-yard TD out of the wildcat formation. The score was set up by a 45-yard pass from Collins to Dariyan Wiley.