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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Meigs County senior receiver Cameron Huckabey breaks free from a Trousdale County defender for a 39-yard gain in the first half of Friday's Class 2A second-round playoff game at Jewell Field in Decatur, Tenn.

DECATUR, Tenn. — Meigs County quarterback Logan Carroll and fellow senior Bryson Falls dropped to the ground near their own end zone late Friday night as the clock hit zero on the game and their high school football careers.

For a program that had played for the past two TSSAA Class 2A state titles in the BlueCross Bowl, the sting of a second-round defeat resonated with an inspirational Meigs County senior class that was a part of 50 wins in four seasons.

Trousdale County beat the Tigers 16-8 at Jewell Field, battling back from an 8-0 halftime deficit in a matchup that seemingly should have been deeper in the playoffs for both sides given their stature.

"One of our seniors after the game said 'I let everybody down,'" Meigs County coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "I told him and all of our seniors, 'You haven't let anybody down'. This was their 55th game they played in five years. As bad as they hurt, if this is the worst thing they go through in life ... well that's one hell of a life.

"Yeah, we all wanted to win a state championship. But when these guys look back at their career, they should all hold their heads high. I am proud to have coached them. They played hard. They played so hard."

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Friday night's Chattanooga-area high school playoffs)

Photo Gallery

Meigs County football vs. Trousdale County on Nov. 12, 2021

The Tigers (10-1) certainly looked capable of remaining unbeaten early in the game against the Yellow Jackets (10-1).

However, Meigs County turned the ball over on downs at the Trousdale 20- and 6-yard lines on its first two possessions of the game, and the Tigers also missed a chance at six points early when they were unable to recover a high snap over the Trousdale punter's head into the end zone.

Tennessee Titans Mr. Football candidate Cameron Huckabey made the biggest play of the night for the Tigers.

The versatile senior skied for an impressive leaping grab over a defender, breaking off down the left sideline for 39 yards. Carroll then plowed his way in for a 2-yard score, and Da'Quawn Tatum followed with a nifty 2-point conversion pass to Dalton Purgason for an 8-0 lead with 11:05 left in the second quarter.

After a dominant first half on defense in which Falls, Tatum, Luke Pendergrass, Ben Smith and others laid down big hits left and right, momentum faded for the home team.

Trousdale County's defense would not budge, and Bryson Claiborne provided electric runs for the Jackets' offense. He sprinted down the right sideline on the first play of the second half for 52 yards, then later fought his way in for a 3-yard score on fourth-and-goal. The Jackets made it 8-all with a 2-point run by quarterback Keenan Burnley.

Meigs County lost the turnover battle 2-0, and an interception by Burnley helped set up the winning drive with 8:36 left to play.

Claiborne and Kane Burnley cut and sped their way to gains of 25 and 36 yards, respectively to set up a 4-yard score from fullback Cole Gregory. Claiborne then just barely crossed the goal line as he extended the ball out on his 2-point run for the final margin.

The Tigers had no answer left in them as their last desperation heave bounced off a defender and just past the outstretched hands of Huckabey, who finished with four catches for 67 yards.

Meigs County had won the previous two playoff battles over Trousdale 16-13 and 22-20, while the Tigers fell 32-29 in 2018 to a team that has become a major postseason rival.

"We have played them four times in a row, and it's always gone back and forth," Fitzgerald said. "That was two really darn good football teams playing in the second round."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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