The Valdosta Daily Times
There was a defensive battle all night Friday in Adel between the Cook High School Hornets (2-3) and Fitzgerald High School Hurricanes (4-1-1).
The Hornets were unable to overcome three first quarter turnovers and a late interception returned for a touchdown as they fell by a score of 27-13 to fall to 0-2 in the region this season.
The Hornets fell behind 14-0 early in the game and battled back to make it a close game. The Hurricanes proved to be too strong for Cook in the end as they dominated the fourth quarter.
“Anything you give (the Hurricanes) anything down near the end zone, anything close like that, they are going to score,” Cook High School head coach Ken Cofer said. “They are a disciplined team ... Hats off to them for taking control of (the turnovers).”
Cook junior quarterback Connor Hilliard went 16-29 throwing the ball. Hilliard threw for 216 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, including a 50-yard pick six that the Hurricanes returned with less than seven seconds in the game.
“We can’t continue to dig ourselves in a hole,” Coach Cofer said. “(Hilliard) was blaming (the loss) on himself, but we put him in that situation. If we score earlier, we’re good.”
The Hurricanes were favored coming into the game, but Cook made it a close game and had Fitzgerald on the ropes until late in the game.
“These kids are always underdogs and always have since I’ve been here,” Coach Cofer said. “When they went ahead 14, our kids never panicked.”
The Hornets gave a defensive effort that was greater than what appeared on the scoreboard. After going down by two scores, the Hornets defense did not allow a point for 32:21 minutes of game time.
“Defense played great all night; they have been playing great all year,” Coach Cofer said. “We put our defense in some bad situations and when you continue to do that, it wears on your defense.”
The Hornets caught a few breaks in the game that allowed them to stay in it, including a missed 39-yard field goal by the Hurricanes and a defensive pass interference call on the Hurricanes to keep the Hornets on the field on a fourth and three.
“We had to come back and work for our touchdowns and we gave it to them again,” Coach Cofer said. “It’s all about blowing opportunities. We will get better ... We have to play better as a team and get those opportunities in the end zone.”
Cook will play at Pelham next Friday while Fitzgerald returns home to face Brooks County.