By Rory Sharrock
Almost doesn't count, but it can go a long ways toward establishing a solid reputation.
This past Friday, the Jonesboro Cardinals traveled to Titletown, USA to face the state-ranked Valdosta Wildcats and were given little to no chance of pulling out an upset.
However, the team took the field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium with no reservations and almost walked away with the biggest win in school history.
Despite having a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter, and never trailing on the scoreboard until the final minutes, the Cards were unable to shake up the Georgia High School Association's world as they fell 14-10 to the heavily-favored Wildcats.
"One thing you can always tell them (team) is as the season goes on, you're not going to see an environment like that," said Jonesboro head coach Clint Satterfield. "We played in the toughest environment and came up short. It was Homecoming out there and the crowd was tremendous. I'm proud that they competed all the way to the end."
Jonesboro cracked a dent in the scoreboard and sent shockwaves throughout the stands when Perry Wood intercepted a pass from Valdosta quarterback Kyle Lowe and raced 52-yards the other way for the game's first points.
Valdosta tied the score early in the second quarter when Rowe handed the ball off to senior tailback VaShun Johnson for a six-yard touchdown run. The score would remain even at the half.
The Cardinals regained the lead in the third quarter when kicker Eric Cheney drilled home a 44-yard field goal. Cheney's kick was the result of another Lowe interception. This time Jonathan Smith was the beneficiary of the Wildcats' turnover.
After the pick, Jonesboro quarterback Cliff Crews used his swift legs to put the Cards in field goal range and the team appeared headed for the history books.
However, the turning point of the game occurred in the fourth quarter following a stalled drive. With the Cards pinned back in their own territory and facing a long yardage situation on fourth down, the unthinkable happened. The team's long snapper hiked the ball off line, which led to a blocked punt.
Two plays later, Tom Kier found a hole for a 12-yard touchdown run with 8:35 on the clock to give Valdosta its first lead of the night.
But the Cards still showed heart after turning the ball over on downs and the Wildcats missed 30-yard field goal attempt.
Jonesboro lined up at the Valdosta 30-yard line with less than two minutes left, needing to go 70 yards for the win.
Crews showed poise under center as he led his squad down the field. The senior drove the Cardinals all the way to 38-yard line, but his Hail Mary attempt as time expired just missed and Valdosta escaped with the close-call win.
Jonesboro will look to take out its frustrations on region foe Dutchtown this Friday at Dutchtown High School.