By Jerry Richmond, Sports Staff Writer

The Trousdale County Yellow Jackets squandered a 14-point fourth-quarter lead Friday night and went on to lose 22-21 to Watertown in a key Region 4-2A matchup.

The Jackets (1-2, 0-1) now have to win the remainder of their region games and get some help to finish above the Purple Tigers (3-0, 1-0) in league play.

“It was a very tough loss,” said coach Brad Waggoner. “A game that we let slip away as we made some costly mistakes, but give Watertown credit for capitalizing on them.

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Watertown’s Heath Price (25) drives ahead for one of his two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Purple Tigers rallied Friday night for a 22-21 win over Trousdale County.

“It was probably the toughest loss I have experienced as a head coach. No excuses at all, and I take full responsibility for not doing what we needed to do to finish the game with the 21-7 lead.”

Watertown scored on its second possession as senior quarterback Bryce Webster found classmate Elijah Maklary for a 52-yard touchdown pass. Junior Cole Miller kicked the extra point and the visitors took a 7-0 lead.

On the next play from scrimmage, Jackets sophomore quarterback Cameron Rankins rumbled 57 yards down the home sideline for a touchdown. Sophomore Heath Chasse’s kick made it a 7-7 game.

Two possessions later, junior Kobe Ford scored his first touchdown of the season on a 6-yard run. Chasse’s kick put the Jackets up 14-7 headed into halftime.

The two rivals played a scoreless third quarter in which Trousdale County held the ball for all but three plays but failed to score as the opening drive of the second half ended on downs in Watertown territory.

The Yellow Jackets extended their lead to 21-7 with 10:34 to play when Ford scored from four yards out, followed by Chasse’s kick.

On the next drive, Watertown got into the red zone but was intercepted by junior Tarvaris Claiborne. Webster also took a hard hit on the play and was unable to return to the game.

With a chance to run out the clock, the Jackets instead gave the Purple Tigers new life when Ford coughed up the ball.

Watertown coach Gavin Webster turned the offense over to senior Heath Price, a Tennessee Tech commitment who was the region’s Most Valuable Player last year.

Trousdale County’s Kobe Ford rushes for one of his two touchdowns on the evening against Watertown.

Lining up in the Wildcat, Price ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 5:52 left. The Jackets called a timeout before the conversion and the Tigers decided to go for two.

Price converted the attempt to get Watertown within 21-15 and Tiger fans were feeling good about their chances.

After stopping the Jackets, the Purple Tigers put together another scoring drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Price on fourth and goal. Miller booted the extra point to give Watertown a 22-21 lead with 1:41 to play.

Still with time, the Jackets got a boost with a personal-foul penalty that set them up in Watertown territory to start. But a quarterback sack and an intentional-grounding call left the Jackets facing fourth and 33. An incomplete pass handed Watertown its first win in the rivalry since 2007 and its first win on the Creekbank since 2006.

“I will say, these kids battled and there is absolutely no quit in these Jackets,” Waggoner said. “Games like this test you as a person and as a team. We will come back stronger from this game, even though it’s very disappointing as a competitor to lose one like that.”

Ford finished with 16 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns, but fumbled twice and lost one.

Senior Houston Stafford led the Jackets defense with nine tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Junior Jay’dynn Hayward added seven tackles, two for loss. Claiborne had five tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Senior Xavian Seay had three tackles and an interception before leaving in the second half with an apparent knee injury.

The win for Watertown was just the 25th in the 76 games played against Trousdale County.