CANTON — A battle between two of the three remaining unbeatens in Cherokee County did not disappoint.
Cherokee went on the road and beat Creekview 14-9 on Friday night, but it took until the final defensive stand before the Warriors secured the victory.
Leading 14-9 with under a minute to play, Cherokee (4-0) stopped Creekview (2-1) on a fourth-and-long near midfield and took a knee on the following play to run out the remaining time on the clock.
In a game marred by penalties — the two teams combine for 270 penalty yards — it was the Warriors who were able survive their first road test and remain undefeated.
“We knew coming in this was exactly what it was going to be,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “(Creekview) is a very good team, and we knew it was going to be a physical game, but like I told the kids, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.”
Entering the game Creekview’s defense was allowing less than seven points per game, and the Grizzlies showed they were up to the task against a Cherokee offense thatentered the game averaging 33 points per game.
It was special teams which broke the deadlock, as Cherokee got on the board first when Tyler Goddard blocked a Creekview punt. His twin brother, Chase, scooped the loose ball and ran it back 20 yards for the touchdown.
The special teams score was the only points for either side in the first half as both defenses held firm against the opposition.
Cherokee running back Keith Adams Jr., who finished with a game-high 20 carries for 125 yards on the ground, was the primary offense for the Warriors throughout the game. Creekview’s defense recorded two interceptions and held Cherokee’s passing game to 97 yards.
“(Creekview was) playing press man on the outside and really giving us a bunch of different looks,” Shaw said. “Obviously, they call plays, too, and, really, they did a great job against us.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Cherokee took advantage of Creekview’s pressure defense. Quarterback A.J. Swann found Brady Borcherer on a tunnel screen for a 38-yard score to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Swann finished 6-for-18 passing for 97 yards with one touchdown.
Creekview responded, however, when quarterback Brody Rhodes drove the Grizzles down the field and scored himself on a 9-yard scramble with 5 minutes remaining.
Rhodes finished 14-for-29 passing for 130 yards, while adding 20 carries for 74 yards on the ground.
“He’s gutsy. I love that kid,” Creekview coach Trevor Williams said of Rhodes. “We’re blessed with a great leadership group, and it starts with him. We’re going to need it because we’ve got to bounce back. Credit to Cherokee, because they did a great job and played great defense, but, for us, we made way too many mistakes in all three phases.”
Creekview had a final chance in the final minutes when a low snap on a punt caused a Cherokee safety. The Grizzlies took the ball back on the ensuing free kick with under a minute to play, but Cherokee defense held and Creekview's fourth-quarter comeback fell short.
Creekview will begin its Region 7AAAAAA schedule next week with a game at Caimbridge, while Cherokee will return week for a non-region matchup against Cartersville.