Cowboys Secure Playoff Spot in Comeback Against Titans, 20-21

Photo Courtesy of Ady Harvey ( on Instagram)

Rachel Slay, Staff Writer


Last night, the Gaither Cowboys battled the Tampa Bay Tech Titans, tornadoes and technology before finding victory over each opponent in the final minutes of the game.

Kickoff was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. but, due to roads closing and tornado damage, the start of the game was delayed close to an hour.

The scoreless first quarter was likely a result of the extremely late start to the game, causing each team to be lethargic. The Cowboys started the second quarter uncomfortably deep in their own territory. A fumble on second down gave the Titans the ball at the Cowboy 16-yard line.

TBT quarterback David Wright used this opportunity to pass for six and went up 7-0 with seven and a half minutes left in the half.

Gaither recovered a fumble for themselves late in the quarter, forced by linebacker Brysen Roth. The Cowboys were at the 15-yard line with no timeouts and a running clock. Quarterback Tony Bartalo passed to senior receiver Adrian Higgins at the sideline, getting them inside the five but the clock hit zero before Gaither could get into the endzone.

Senior safety Damien Lomeli picked off a pass on Tech’s first play from scrimmage to start the second half, giving Gaither the ball at the 23-yard line. After a couple of short rushes, Chris Meadors passed to Johnny Dietl for a TD.

Tech answered quickly with a short pass from Wright to receiver Isaiah Stephens, who broke through the Gaither secondary for a 70-yard TD. After a muffed PAT, the score was 13-7. Shortly after, Wright passed to receiver Bobby Moore to lengthen the Titan lead to 13 points with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.

It was a two-score game for the Cowboys and they had only five minutes to close the gap.

Bartalo, taking the reins of the offense, passed to Reid to get into Titan territory. Two defensive pass interference calls later, Bartalo rushed for a TD. The Cowboys were down by 6 with 3:36 on the clock.

Gaither’s defense took the field after a failed onside kick attempt and shut down Tampa Bay Tech for a turnover on downs at the 45-yard line. Bartalo chucked a 37-yard pass to Higgins who fought with the Titan defender before, ultimately, coming down with the ball. Bartalo then ran one yard for the TD they needed to tie the game.

Kicker and strong safety Hunter Mintzer (now 28/29 this season) made the PAT, putting the Cowboys in the lead 20-21.

Without Higgins’ catch, the game would’ve likely resulted in a loss, ending the season for the Cowboys.

As the Titan’s tried to cling to what little chance of victory they had left, the stadium lights suddenly turned off. The blackout stretched the last 12 seconds into 22 suspenseful minutes. Finally, at 11:23 pm, the Cowboys officially defeated the Titans and punched their ticket to the playoffs.