By Cherokee Tribune Sports
CANTON — Four quarters of football were not enough Friday, as Cherokee needed three overtimes to come away with a 50-42 win over Woodstock at Tommy Baker Field.
Regulation ended with the teams tied at 28-all. Both scored on each of their possessions of the first two overtimes, but after a Cherokee touchdown and 2-point conversion in the third overtime, Aaron Knowles intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal the game and a state playoff berth for the Warriors.
“What a fantastic game,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “I thought we were a little sluggish in the first half. Our kids just persevered and never stopped. It was the best game I’ve seen this year.”
Cherokee (5-3, 3-0 Region 4AAAAAAA) got the overtime scoring started with a 15-yard pass from Nolan Donley to Aaron Knowles, but Woodstock (5-3, 2-1) answered with a touchdown pass of its own from Liam Byrne to Ryan Rauscher.
Byrne found Louis Hall from 15 yards out to start the second overtime, but Cherokee answered with a 1-yard scoring run from Jack Carroll. Donley then hit Montrell Washington for the game-winning score in the third overtime.
“We just never stopped fighting,” Donley said. “Our line stepped up and did a good job. Our skill position guys made big plays when we needed them to. It was just a good performance from everyone.”
Donley finished the game 21-of-41 passing for 178 yards and four touchdowns. Washington finished with 86 total yards and two touchdowns, while Knowles added six catches for 72 yards and a pair of scores.
Carroll also had a memorable game for the Warriors. In addition to playing the entire game at middle linebacker, the senior also handled all of the punting duties, completed a pass for a 2-point conversion, ran the ball 18 times for 74 yards and three touchdowns and was named homecoming king at halftime.
Woodstock had little trouble moving the ball, but three interceptions — including two picked off by Brendan Kenney — proved costly.
“I thought we played sloppy on both sides of the ball,” Woodstock coach Brent Budde said. “I liked the effort we gave. We never gave up, but we made too many mistakes for a game like this. We have to get that stuff cleaned up.”
Byrne played well again in his third game starting. He was 31-of-44 with passes to eight different receivers for 361 yards and six touchdowns.
Hall caught nine passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Noah Frith also caught nine passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, but the Wolverines could not find a running game to complement their dynamic passing attack, only rushing for 19 yards.
With a spot in the playoffs now locked up, Cherokee will look to clinch a home game next week when it hosts Lassiter.
Woodstock will travel to undefeated Roswell looking to get back to its winning ways and clinch a playoff berth of its own.
“This game is over,” Budde said. “It’s behind us. We have to refocus, try to improve on the mistakes we made and get ready for our last two games.”
Copyright © 2016 Marietta Daily Journal 10/23/2016