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Trousdale County quarterback Keenan Burnley (8) is dragged down by a Watertown defender during Friday’s game.

The Region 4-2A championship will stay in Watertown for one more season after the Purple Tigers took advantage of Trousdale County’s mistakes to hand the Yellow Jackets a 31-21 defeat Friday evening.

It is the fourth season in a row that Watertown (7-3, 5-0) has claimed the region championship and the victory gave the Purple Tigers seven wins in their last eight games after an 0-2 start to the season.

“Kids believe. We just kept believing in what we were doing and the kids believed in it,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said. “We’ve been preaching all week that bad things happen sometimes. We said we were going to have a big ballgame and things aren’t going to go right all the time.”

“I was hoping this squad would be the one to get over the hump,” Trousdale coach Blake Satterfield said. “Tonight we just didn’t play great football. Now it’s an uphill battle… Hats off to Watertown. They took advantage of the bad conditions and there’s a reason they’re a four-time region champion.”

Trousdale County (8-1, 4-1) had been ranked No. 2 in Class 2A and the Yellow Jackets grabbed the early momentum when Bryson Claiborne got outside and raced 62 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on the second play of the game. The Jackets’ defense forced a punt and Trousdale looked poised to take control.

But Watertown’s defense stiffened and a snap went over the punter’s head, setting up the Purple Tigers at the TC 25. Five plays later, Kwame Seay found the end zone to put Watertown on the scoreboard.

Watertown took a 13-7 lead in the second quarter on Adam Cooper’s 4-yard carry and looked poised to extend the lead before halftime. But Trousdale’s Kane Burnley forced a fumble along the visitors’ sideline and set up the Jackets in positive territory and Cole Gregory’s 2-yard plunge with 14 seconds left before halftime gave the hosts a 14-13 lead.

“We gave up a big touchdown but they fought right back and didn’t let it bother them,” Webster said. “Some people are going to lay down. We didn’t.”

Watertown would benefit from a pair of Trousdale County fumbles to score on short fields in the fourth quarter after trailing 21-20 entering the final period. Claiborne’s fumble was recovered by Blaze Kinslow at the Trousdale 18.

Four plays later, quarterback Brayden Cousino went off the left side for a 7-yard touchdown to put the Purple Tigers back ahead. Cousino would add a 2-point conversion run to put Watertown ahead 28-21.

On the ensuing kickoff, Watertown forced a fumble that was recovered by kicker Trey Pack at the Trousdale 36. The Purple Tigers would drive to the Trousdale 3 before setting for Pack’s 20-yard field goal, which made it a two-possession game with just 3:20 remaining.

“We both had crucial turnovers and both got scores off them,” Webster said. “That’s just part of big ballgames.”

“That’s the story every year we’ve played Watertown the first time around and lost, it’s been turnovers,” Satterfield said. “Tonight we didn’t play well enough to win a region championship. We didn’t play like a championship football team.”

Cooper led Watertown with 138 rushing yards on 25 carries as the Purple Tigers outgained the Yellow Jackets 265-204. Claiborne, who had been averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, managed just 18 yards on 12 carries after his long scoring run.

Both teams will open the Class 2A playoffs at home on Friday, with Watertown hosting Bledsoe County and Trousdale County hosting Tyner Academy.

If the Jackets win, they will face the winner of Meigs County and East Robertson, with the higher seed hosting. Should Watertown win, they would host the winner of Westmoreland-Marion County.

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