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Early County eliminated from Class AA postseason after mini-playoff

Early County falls to Cook by a touchdown

Early County’s Tyrek Lewis (9) looks for yards against Cook Monday night at Milt Miller Field. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

Early County’s Tyrek Lewis (9) looks for yards against Cook Monday night at Milt Miller Field. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

SYLVESTER — The Early County players walked slowly toward the locker room.

There was very little talking, and the look of frustration was obvious.

The Bobcats’ season ended with a 7-0 loss to Cook on Monday night in a Georgia High School Association “mini-playoff” game at Milt Miller Field at Worth County High School.

After Fitzgerald scored a 3-0 victory over Cook in the first contest, the Hornets met Early in the second game with its postseason hopes hinging on the outcome.

Cook’s Connor Hilliard broke free on a short touchdown run in the first period and the Hornets made the score stand.

Early’s season ends at 5-5, while Fitzgerald earned the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AA. They will travel to meet Dublin in the first round. Cook finishes as the fourth seed and will travel to Augusta on Saturday to meet Region 3-AA champion Laney.

“I can’t really explain it,” said a frustrated Tyrek Lewis. “I thought we could have scored in the first half.”

After Hilliard gave Cook the lead, Lewis broke off a long run, followed by a personal foul on the Hornets to set up Early inside Cook’s 25-yard line. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Bobcats attempted a 35-yard field goal as time expired that fell short.

But with the Bobcats getting the ball to start the second five-minute quarter, Early coach Trey Woolf said his team felt good about its chances.

However, Early went three downs and out on its opening possession of the second and never seemed to get its offense in gear.

“We’re not an explosive-type team,” Woolf said. “We had to do some things we’re not used to doing in this kind of (playoff) format.”

The Bobcats did have one final chance to match Cook’s score with 1:02 left. Quarterback Miles Norman hit Shacquwan Mills on two short passes, then connected with Trent Mock on a 12-yard pass to give the Bobcats a first down.

But a penalty, followed by two incompletions — including a final heave from Norman to Mock in the middle of the field at the Cook 30 — bounced off the receiver’s fingertips, leaving the Hornets to celebrate.

“This football team came a lot farther than some of the team’s we’ve had,” Woolf said. “I’m proud of them.”

Fitzgerald used a 20-yard field goal from Manuel Chavez in the first game, then its defense stifled Cook to capture the third seed.

But Cook, who defeated Early County three days earlier in Adel, did just enough to end the Bobcats’ season.