The North Middle School Gators lost to the Coffee County Middle School Red Raiders 33-22 on the road Tuesday for their second loss of the season.
The game was a back-and-forth battle with the score remaining close until the Red Raiders pulled away in the final minutes of the contest.
North head football coach Kenny Shultz said his team played a good game, but fatigue played a factor at the end of the day.
“Our guys got off the bus ready to play tonight. I thought we started the game really well. We came out fired up,” Shultz said. “I thought we played a decent ballgame. We got a little tired at the end and I think that’s probably what cost us.”
The Gators kicked the ball off to start the game, but they recovered the opening kick after a mistake by the Red Raiders.
Caiden Mears ran the ball into the end zone for the Gators a few plays later to give them an early 8-0 lead.
The Red Raiders would get on the board with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, but the two-point conversion attempt following their touchdown would be unsuccessful as the Gators still led 8-6.
However, the Red Raiders would get the ball back quickly and score a second touchdown to put the Gators behind by a score of 13-8 with six minutes remaining in the half.
The Gators trailed 13-8 at halftime.
The Gators made some offensive adjustments throughout the game in an effort to counter the defense of Coffee County.
“We spread them out a little bit. We threw the ball a little bit more than we normally do which we were very successful with,” Shultz said. “I was pleased with our quarterback play. We were pleased with our receivers and the way they caught the football tonight.”
The passing attack for the Gators would yield a touchdown with two minutes remaining in the third quarter as quarterback CJ Seals connected with Eric Jones to give North a 16-13 lead.
However, the Red Raiders took the lead back with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter and they added another touchdown with 3:30 remaining on the game clock to expand the lead to 26-16.
The Gators were not quite done yet as Seals connected with Jacob Hardison on a long touchdown pass seconds later to bring the deficit back down to four points.
The Red Raiders would, however, recover the ensuing onside kick and run off most of the clock before scoring a touchdown with one minute remaining to put the game out of reach.
With the loss, the Gators moved to 2-2 on the season.
They will next play Tuesday at Harris Middle School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.