SYLVESTER -- Oh, what could have been.
The Worth County football team lost to Cook, 28-14, on Friday night, but the score easily could have been reversed.
The difference-maker could have been Rams senior Trey Frager's 40-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that was negated by a penalty.
Or, it could have been sophomore Marlin Hall's near pick that bounced off his hands after Worth County (2-1) went up 14-7 with five minutes left in the game.
It could even have been running back Jhue Rhodes' missed point-after kick after he ran for a Rams touchdown late in the third.
But in the end, it was a series of mistakes and three stunning TDs by
the Hornets in the final minutes of the game that did the Rams in.
"That's kind of the way the whole thing was (Friday night), was (missed) opportunities," Worth County coach Scotty Ward said. "When you come along with those opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. A couple times we didn't, and they took advantage at the end.
They found a way to win the ball game."
Cook scored on its first drive -- a 99-yarder that ate up half of the opening quarter -- which ended on an 18-yard pass from quarterback Zach Folsom to receiver Clifford Pettiford to put the Hornets up, 7-0.
The score stayed that way until 7:09 left in the third quarter, when Rhodes made the game 7-6 on a drive set up by Dantavius Jones' 37-yard interception, which gave the Rams great field position.
"In the second half, we started to do what we do," Ward said. "We started wearing them down a little bit. But give them credit, they're a good football team."
Early in the fourth, with the score 7-7, Frager's 40-yard fumble recovery was negated because a Worth player ran into the back of a Cook player who'd stopped running.
The Rams responded shortly after that, eventually scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run by Keion Ray in a drive that featured a successful fourth-down conversion, a pass interference call on Cook, an injury to Worth QB Will Peacock -- which he came back from the next play -- and a two-point conversion reception by Frager.
The very next series, Hall just missed grabbing an interception for the Rams that would've put the game away, but Cook scored on 77-yard pass on fourth and three to tie things up, 14-14.
It was back-and-forth after that until Folsom wrapped things up for Cook with a 66-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left in the game to make it 21-14. The Hornets made it final when they intercepted Peacock for 45 yards and a score with seconds left.
"I feel like we battled hard, but we missed some big opportunities," Peacock said. "A couple missed passes toward the end zone there, a pick here, we just missed (some chances)."
Folsom did the most damage for Cook (3-0), as he was 18 of 24 for
302 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Pettiford was the beneficiary for two of those touchdowns and finished with 110 receiving yards.
Ellis Anderson led the way for Worth, rushing for 81 yards on 19 carries, while Hall led the defense with two fumble recoveries.
"I think our kids played hard," Ward said. "I think we had a good game plan for the week and our coaches were good to go. I think everything aligned, but we blew a couple coverages, and bang, (there goes the game)."
It's a little bit of magic lost for a Worth team that beat both Fitzgerald and Turner County earlier in the season, but the Rams are optimistic.
"We're proud of how far we've come (this year)," Peacock said. "We handled Fitzgerald and thought we could handle Cook, but again, missed opportunities."
The Rams head out to Tift County (2-2) next week.
"Whatever we do from now until Americus-Sumter, (in two weeks) we have to prepare to be able to play the rest of the season," Ward said. "We can't hang our heads because of this."