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Dragons fall 26-23 to Whitehaven after taking early lead

Senior running back Cole Johnson hauls in the pass from quarterback Matt Connors for the touchdown Friday night on the road against Whitehaven.

The Collierville Dragons bounced back early against Whitehaven Friday night on the road but were unable to get the win in round one of the playoffs.

Less than a minute after Collierville’s Wyatt Raines recovered a fumble from Whitehaven’s Cameron Sneed early in the first quarter, senior Dragon quarterback Matt Connors threw an interception.

However, Collierville’s defense wouldn’t allow Whitehaven to score on the subsequent drive or for the remainder of the quarter.

Collierville got the first points on the score board early in the second quarter when Connors handed off the ball to senior running back Cole Johnson in the red zone. The play came one possession after Johnson broke loose for more than 30 yards. He would finish the night with 42 rushing yards on nine attempts, one touchdown and 61 yards receiving on four receptions.

Whitehaven answered late in the second quarter with a five-yard touchdown run from Chris Witherspoon. However, the Tigers would go on to miss the extra point kick.

Senior running back Cole Johnson hauls in the pass from quarterback Matt Connors for the touchdown Friday night on the road against Whitehaven.

Senior running back Cole Johnson hauls in the pass from quarterback Matt Connors for the touchdown Friday night on the road against Whitehaven. Photo by Roger Cotton

On the ensuing drive, Johnson would return the Whitehaven kickoff 30 yards, allowing kicker Caleb Myers to get within 33 yards for a successful field goal after three positive gains on offense.

Up 10-6 at halftime, the Dragons weren’t done on either side of the field. Collierville started the half with an impressive offensive march down that lasted nearly four minutes before Connors scored on a 12-yard quarterback scramble. The extra point kick was blocked.

Connors would finish the game with 229 passing yards on an astonishing 44 attempts. He also had two touchdowns and 64 rushing yards.

Collierville’s defense would hold until halfway through the third quarter when Witherspoon scored again, this time from the 35 yard line. Whitehaven then completed the extra point.

After the next set of offensive downs was ineffective for the Dragons, Whitehaven responded with a 42-yard touchdown run courtesy of Cameron Sneed. They then missed the extra point with the clock wining down in the third quarter.

Down 19-16, Collierville began the final quarter with Connors scrambling on the first two sets of downs before throwing an incomplete pass on third down.

After another series of possessions, Whitehaven quarterback Vincent Guy found receiver Cormontae Hamilton for a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Collierville would answer with another Connors touchdown with 24 seconds on the clock. This time, Marcus Bersoza was the recipient. However, they could not complete the onside kick after the touchdown.

Raines led Collierville’s defense with nine tackles and a fumble. Cade Cupp had eight tackles, CJ Barnes had seven and Gavin Rawie chipped in six.

Collierville finishes its season with a 6-5 record as Whitehaven moves on to play Memphis Central.

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