ADEL -- Still smarting from last week's loss to Thomasville, the Cook High Hornets battled through mistakes and a 12-8 fourth quarter deficit to beat Early County, 15-12, Friday at Memorial Stadium.
"I think last week took a lot out of us," said Cook head coach George Dean. "But, we came back in the end and did what we needed to do."
The Hornets, who enter next week's AA state playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of Region 1-AA, committed five first-half penalties while also converting 2-of-4 opportunities inside the Early County 10-yard line.
Cook (6-3 overall, 5-1in 1-AA) will host the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AA next Friday. Early County, who needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, ends its season at 5-5 overall and 2-4 in 1-AA.
One of the Hornets' golden scoring chances came on their first offensive drive of the night when Cook's offense was stopped short of a first down at the Early Count 5-yard line.
The play led to a Cook safety, forced four plays later by a muffed punt.
The other squandered Hornet scoring chance came in the fourth quarter on a Tony Carnegia fumble at the Early County 10-yard line that was recovered by the Bobcats.
"We got it down there a few times and everything just self-destructed," Dean said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We've got to stop self-destructing."
Carnegia led the Hornets on the ground with 92 yards on 14 carries.
Trailing 12-8 with 4:32 to play, the Hornets started from their own 37-yard line, using their ground game to move downfield while also eating valuable time off the clock.
The Hornets also used quarterback Ty Goff to throw the ball enough to keep the Bobcats defense honest throughout the night.
Goff was 4-of-5 for 46 yards.
Goff's only completion of the drive came from the Cook 42-yard line on a 14-yard pass to Andrel Lane.
A facemask penalty against Early County advanced the ball to the Bobcat 30.
Cook's offense however bogged down again, facing a fourth down at the Bobcat 18.
The Hornets responded, as Cedric Mason rushed six yards to the 15-yard line.
A 10-yard scamper by Carnegia moved the Hornets to the early County five as 1:03 remained.
Two plays later, the Hornets went ahead as Anthony Morris scored on a sweep around the right side with less than 30 seconds to play.
Early County had a chance to pull the game out, starting from its own 27 with 15 seconds to play.
But quarterback Emmanuel Taylor's pass fell incomplete as time expired.
Taylor, who gave the Bobcats a 12-8 third quarter lead on an 18-yard pass to Al Hightower, was 10-of-24 for 122 yards.
Both teams would exchange first half touchdown to give Cook an 8-6 half-time lead.
After a 38-yard run by Early's Jharrod Williams translated to a 6-2 win for the Bobcats with 11:58 left in the second quarter, Cook took an 8-6 lead on a 15-yard run by Lane.
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