Their backs against the wall and their lead in jeopardy, the Model Blue Devils gathered their focus Friday night and trusted their defense to provide one more big play.
And as Anthone Williams intercepted a Chattooga pass in the end zone with just over two minutes left to play, Model’s sideline erupted with relief and celebration.
After making a statement on defense from the beginning, the Blue Devils pushed through four quarters against the visiting Indians and pulled off a 12-6 Region 7-AA victory at Woodard-Tuggle Stadium.
The win gives them a 3-1 mark in region play and an inside track at securing a playoff berth for the first time since 2016.
“We were able to sustain some drives on offense and rotated a good number of guys,” Model head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said. “We were probably in a little better shape, but in a physical matchup like that I don’t know if that really holds true. It’s just the grit of our team representing that family that we’re trying to be about. I think that really showed through.”
Chattooga (3-4, 2-2 7-AA) finished with 71 yards on the ground and just six first downs while Indian running back Lashaun Lester was contained throughout the game. The sophomore, who has over 800 yards rushing this season, was held to 60 yards on 17 carries.
Blue Devil Tyler Gamble was in on three tackles for loss, while teammate Richmond Sims disrupted Chattooga’s passing game and came up with an interception with 4:50 left in the first half.
Model (3-4) had been struggling to get its offense going up to that point, and quarterback Sam Silver took control of the ensuing drive. The junior hit Luke Holtzendorf and Cole Couey on passes of 11 and 14 yards, respectively, to get to the Indians’ 33.
A.J. Woods then had runs of 25 and 17 yards before Silver pushed his way over the goal line from a yard out with 35.5 seconds to go in the second quarter. David Veillon’s kick on the point after was good to give Model a 9-0 lead.
Hunnicutt said despite the tough times he was grateful for the offensive line to perform like they did, especially with 6-foot-2, 275-pound Luis Medina lining up on the opposite side.
“I told the offensive line that I expect nothing less from them with the effort they gave tonight and I was extremely proud of those guys,” Hunnicutt said. “Medina is one heck of a football player. Their entire team echos what we’re trying to establish here. I’m so proud of our efforts across the board. “
Chattooga’s lone score came in the fourth quarter when quarterback Cash Allen hit Jamarious Mosteller on the sideline and the senior slipped one defender to race 60 yards down the field and into the end zone. The low snap on the extra point attempt was bobbled and Sims dove in to cover it.
The first points of the night came in the first quarter after Chattooga was pinned at its own 4-yard line on a 39-yard punt by Veillon that was downed by Model’s Troy Arnold. After Lester ran the ball twice, the Indians were called for holding in the end zone on three-and-8, leading to a safety.
Chattooga was held to a single possession in the third quarter, which resulted in a three-and-out, and Model began a drive at its own 14 with 6:53 to go in the period that the Blue Devils were able to stretch out all the way into the fourth quarter as Veillon hit a 30-yard field goal to make it 12-0.
Model will host Gordon Central next Friday, while Chattooga returns to Floyd County to take on Armuchee.