PEARISBURG, Va. — Every team wants to make the playoffs. That makes it hard for the losing team to accept when the season ends in a loss.

The Giles Spartans learned that the hard way on Friday, dropping a 20-17 overtime decision to George Wythe on a cold and windy afternoon in the Region C, Division 2 championship game at Ragsdale Stadium.

While Giles (10-2) saw its string of three straight Region C titles come to an end, Spartans’ head coach Steve Ragsdale appreciated the fight his team showed in rebounding from a 14-0 deficit to force an extra period.

“It didn’t end like we would like it, but it was a heck of a season,” Ragsdale said. “When you get in the playoffs, you’re probably going to lose your last game, it’s just a matter of when, unless you go all the way, and that’s very difficult to do so I think it was a heckuva season.”

George Wythe (11-1) will play either Powell Valley or Gate City in the Division 2 semifinals next weekend. The winner will advance to the state title game in Salem on Dec. 8.

Head coach Donnie Pruitt led the Maroons to the 2002 Division 2 state title. He admitted that this game was a close second as a highlight in his career, especially considering that Giles had won eight of the previous 14 Region C crowns.

“This is probably number two, the state championship and then this game here,” said Pruitt, whose Maroons lost 28-7 earlier this season to Giles. “We wanted to beat them so bad...we wanted them really bad.”

It took overtime for it to happen. George Wythe dominated the first half to lead 14-0 at the break. Giles did the same in the second half, tying the score at 14-14 with 38 seconds left in the game.

“It was a tough ball game to lose, it would be tough for anybody,” Ragsdale said. “Somebody has got to lose and somebody has got to win. I was proud of our team, however, with the way we came back in the second half.”

Giles scored first in overtime, but the Spartans had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Cody Journell for the 17-14 lead.

“That was very key, we just stepped up,” George Wythe sophomore lineman Drew Lester said. “We gave it all we had right there and we stopped them.”

That gave George Wythe the ball. A five-yard false start penalty pushed the Maroons to the Giles’ 15. That mistake didn’t change Pruitt’s plan.

“We knew we weren’t going to run the ball much on them, we threw it all over the field today,” Pruitt said. “We got down there and that was the plan, we threw it.

“It worked for us. They made their field goal and Jacob found the right guy and we’re Region C champs.”

On the next play, Maroons’ signal-caller Jacob Sharitz connected with Will Sawyers at the 2. The junior tight end did the rest, pushing his way into the end zone for the winning score.

“I was just waiting to see if Jacob was going to look,” Sawyers said. “He was the key factor, he threw a perfect pass.

“...We held them to a field goal and on the first offensive play me and Sawyers, we just looked at each other and I winked at him and we had it,” added Sharitz. “We wanted to win region, but now we just want to keep going, especially beating them here, that is huge.”

George Wythe dominated the opening half, out-gaining the Spartans 213-27. The Maroons scored two touchdowns in the second quarter on 10-yard runs by Larry McCoy and Seth White. Meanwhile, Giles managed just one first down and that came late in the half.

“Coach put in a new defense this year, he said we had to stop the fullback and that’s what we did,” Lester said. “That’s the only thing that hurt us the last time, we did that this time and it seemed to work.”

The second half was completely different, with the Spartans out-gaining the Maroons 216-35, with George Wythe collecting one first down.

“I think we just ran out of gas there for a while,” Lester said, “but we sucked it back up and came back and won it.”

After a 19-play drive to open the third quarter netted no points for Giles, the Spartans scored two fourth quarter touchdowns on a pair of 1-yard runs by Hunter Williams.

The final drive was a gutty 9-play, 83-yard effort that took just over two minutes, which followed a 61-yard punt by the Maroons’ Michael Jones.

“It was like it was two entirely different teams,” Ragsdale said. “We didn’t lay down and quit and made a heckuva comeback and then that fourth quarter was a tremendous effort our team’s part.

“In the overtime, they just executed a little bit better than we did and won the ball game.”

Despite the loss, Ragsdale was pleased with the season. A class of 24 seniors helped the Spartans to 10 wins and the Three Rivers District title. The Spartans also compiled a three-year record of 35-5 with a Division 2 state championship, a state runner-up finish, and two Region C crowns.

“It’s been a good group there. It’s been a good season, and they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of,” Ragsdale said. “It’s kind of bad that we’ve got to end it on a note like we did today, but in the playoffs, you’re probably going to lose your last game some how, some way to somebody.

“At least we went down fighting. We didn’t quit, we staged a heckuva comeback in that fourth quarter, but it just didn’t fall our way there in overtime.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

at bwoodson@bdtonline.com



at Ragsdale Stadium

George Wythe...................0 14 0 0 6 — 20

Giles...................................0 0 0 14 3 — 17

Scoring

Second Quarter

GW—McCoy 10 run (Jones kick) 5:05

GW—White 10 run (Jones kick) :56

Fourth Quarter

GL—Williams 1 run (Journell kick) 7:31

GL—Williams 1 run (Journell kick) :34

Overtime

GL—Journell 23 field goal

GW—Sawyers 15 pass from Sharitz

———

Team Statistics

First Downs: GW 13; GL 13. Rush-Yards: GW 38-191; GL 49-194. Pass Yards: GW 72; GL 49. Comp-Att-Int: GW 6-17-1; GL 2-7-2. Fumbles-Lost: GW 1-0; GL 1-0. Penalty-Yards: GW 6-35; GL 5-37. Punts-Avg: GW 5-45.2; GL 4-40.

———

Individual Statistics

Rushing: GW McCoy 12-79, White 15-70, Smith 5-23, Davis 2-13, Sharitz 4-0; GL Douthat 25-83, Williams 15-65, Jones 12-48, Journell 1-(-4).

Passing: GW Sharitz 17-6-1-72-1; GL Douthat 7-2-2-49-1.

Receiving: GW Yonce 2-32, Sawyers 1-15, Smith 1-13, Davis 2-11; GL Ellis 1-37, Williams 1-12.