To kick off the last day of the three-day championship football weekend in Chattanooga, two 14-0 perfect teams met in the rain on a crisp Saturday morning. Upperman and Pearl Cohn were both perfect going in but only one could remain perfect and be crowned the 4A champion.
The first quarter was largely uneventful score wise, partially because of the rain and partially because the wo defenses were playing well. Upperman’s opening drive was an impressively methodical one, capped off by a Clayton Harris touchdown. After that, no points would be scored in the first half. Upperman did not even attempt a pass until around eight minutes left in the second quarter facing a third and 13. That 7-0 lead would hold and that was our score going into the break.
It truly was a tale of two halves as both teams lit up the scoreboard in the second. Zeion Simpson-Smith got the Firebirds on the board with a touchdown run but Upperman struck right back taking the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a special teams score. Pearl Cohn Quarterback, Keshawn Tarleton added a rushing touchdown of his own and that was the start of the shift in favor of the firebirds and an upswing in action in the final quarter.
D’arious Reed gave Pearl Cohn their first lead of the day, with 12:12 to play, after catching a pass over his defender’s head in the endzone. Zeion Simpson-Smith was not done and he exploded for a 30-yard touchdown run where he outran every Upperman player on the field. Tarleton made one of his best plays of the game on the PAT as the snap and hold process did not go smoothly. As the holder, Tarleton grabbed the ball that was spinning in front of him and spun himself to the outside and danced into the endzone.
Upperman was not out of it, far from it. On their next drive Ethan Palk carried two Firebirds on his back into the endzone to cut the lead to 29-21 with 7:41 remaining. Their onside kick attempt became a tipped ball that became a pile of players in a fight for the football. Upperman won that fight and began to drive to tie the game. After their score to make it 29-27, the Bees had officially came buzzing ack but it was going to come doen to the two point conversion. The Upperman ballcarrier darted around the left side and jumped up and onto a group of Pear Cohn players on the goal line and attempted to extend the ball over the plane. Upperman thought they scored and Pearl Cohn believed they stopped the play. In the end the referees agreed with Pear Cohn who won their first state title since 1997 by a final score of 36-27 after returning the ensuing onside kick back for a touchdown, with all 36 points coming in the second half.