Piedmont head coach Drew Gossen is confident that his program is close to turning the tide and becoming a true postseason contender this season.
Friday night, Piedmont was mere fingertips away from taking another big step in a front of a sellout crowd at Wildcat Stadium, but a furious fourth-quarter rally came up just short when Noah Ellis’ fourth down pass deflected off the hands of diving receiver Jacob Storts in the end zone on fourth and goal from the 14-yard line to seal Weatherford’s 27-20 win.
“They decided that they were going to fight back and they did,” Gossen said of his teams’ rally. “We just came up a little bit short.”
Weatherford quarterback Ryan Terry led the way for the Eagles, passing for 173 yards and a touchdown while running for 51 more yards and another score. Terry’s first down run in the final minutes iced the game. He added an interception on defense.
“He’s a winner,” Weatherford head coach Woody Roof said of Terry. “He’s kind of got what football coaches call saavy of the game. He was great tonight.”
Trailing 27-13 entering the fourth quarter, the Wildcats’ rally began when Piedmont mounted a scoring drive capped by Landon White’s 11-yard touchdown run with 8:21 to play. After a stop on defense, White did more heavy lifting on Piedmont’s next drive with carries of eight, eight, 11 and 36 yards to take the ball to the Weatherford 20 with 4:46 remaining.
Piedmont moved the ball inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line, but were pushed back by a penalty that forced the fourth down try with just more than two minutes left.
“It was exactly what we wanted and we just couldn’t quite put it together,” Gossen said of the final play.
White ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Ellis was 8 of 15 for 143 yards. Both were instrumental in leading Piedmont back in the fourth quarter.
“He was really was Johnny on the spot and made some big plays late,” Gossen said of Ellis.
Piedmont raced out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, with the big play coming via a 46-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to sophomore Jack Chester on third and 15. Chester reeled in 3 catches for 100 yards in the game.
“He’s a guy that we’re going to continue to bring along. We’re excited about where he’s going to be, not just this season, but in the future,” Gossen said of Chester. “He has a lot of potential.”
Piedmont missed a chance to add to its lead after the long touchdown pass. Weatherford fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Darius Monson recovered for the Wildcats, but Ellis threw an interception on the next play.
After White’s second score, Weatherford tallied 13 unanswered points to tie the game by half on a 3-yard touchdown run by Terry and a pair of field goal’s from Tate Butler.
Gossen said the loss won’t halt the momentum that Piedmont gained from its season opening win at El Reno. If anything, the late rally will add to it heading into next Friday’s game at Noble.
“I think where we’re at right now is that we’re a program that knows we can win,” Gossen said. “To have the opportunity at the end to win a tough game like this shows where these kids are at.”