Watertown used a balanced attack on offense, and its defense stopped Bledsoe County when needed en route to a 35-21 win over the Warriors in the second round of the state playoffs last Friday night at Robinson Stadium.
The win sets up a Watertown (10-2) rematch against region rival Trousdale County (10-1) on Friday at Robinson Stadium after the Yellow Jackets defeated
Academy 28-7 on the road in second-round action. The Purple Tigers handed Trousdale County its lone loss of the season in a 16-13 overtime win in week 2.
“We know what they are going to bring,” said Watertown head coach Gavin Webster. “They are going to bring a great team. They’ve got a great football program, and we’ve got to beat them to advance. We’ve got to get back to work.”
The Purple Tigers took the opening drive 66 yards on seven plays that resulted in a 7-0 lead over Bledsoe County early in the first quarter when Brandon Watts scored on a 7-yard touchdown run.
The Warriors responded on the ensuing drive to tie the game 7-7 after tailback Cadillac Siever scored from 2 yards out with 2:53 left in the first.
On Watertown’s next drive, quarterback Brayden Cousino hit Jordan Cason on a 35-yard pass and then called his own number on the next play with a 36-yard touchdown run to retake a 14-7 lead late in the first. It was Cousino’s first of three touchdowns he scored in the game.
Following a three-and-out from the Warriors, it took three plays for the Purple Tigers to find the end zone again as tailback Deramus Carey scored on a 25-yard touchdown run to take a 21-7 lead early in the second.
The two teams each traded possessions twice before Bledsoe County put together a drive late in the second. With 10 seconds left in the first half, the Warriors faced fourth and 5 at the Watertown 31-yard line when Carey intercepted a pass at the 3-yard line and returned it 87 yards as time expired. Warriors’ quarterback Harmon Keith made the touchdown-saving tackle at the 10-yard line.
The two teams each traded possessions twice again to start the second half. This time, however, it was Watertown that put together a scoring drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Cousino to Elijah Williams that extended the Purple Tigers’ lead to 28-7 late in the third.
Bledsoe County responded with a scoring drive of its own that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Colby Rogers that narrowed Watertown’s lead to 28-14.
Two plays into Watertown’s ensuing drive, Rogers intercepted a pass and scored his second touchdown of the night seven plays later from 8 yards out to further cut Watertown’s lead to 28-21.
Watertown responded on its next possession when Cousino hit Quanterrius Hughes-Malone on a screen pass, and Hughes-Malone raced 52 yards for a touchdown to extend the Purple Tigers’ lead to 35-21 with 3:16 left in the fourth.
Bledsoe County attempted a comeback, but with one second left in the game, Watertown’s Kaden Seay intercepted a pass and downed the ball at the 3-yard line as time expired.
“We kind of had some ups and downs,” Webster said. “In the first half, I thought we played about as well as we could have offensively. We had a few mistakes…But we played pretty doggone error less on both sides of the ball. Our defense settled down and played well after they gave up that first touchdown.
“We just didn’t play great the second half, but they hung in there and got the win, which is what counts. We didn’t fold and kept fighting and came out with the win.”
Watertown managed 414 yards of total offense compared to 225 from Bledsoe County. Carey finished with 19 carries for 115 yards rushing and a touchdown and had 214 all-purpose yards. Cousino went 14-of-18 passing for 217 yards and three touchdowns, two passing and one rushing with 267 all-purpose yards. Hughes-Malone had seven catches for 130 yards and one touchdown and finished with 177 all-purpose yards. Williams had two catches for 22 yards and a touchdown, and Watts rushed four times for 11 yards and a touchdown.
“We played good, but the second half, we started slacking and let them score,” said Hughes-Malone. “For the most part, we did good. We’ve got to work and get ready to play [Trousdale County].”