The Tigers exited the game with a 44-19 loss in the Class 4A quarterfinals. Oneonta (12-1) will face Munford (12-1) in the semifinals.
Oneonta built a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, and the Tigers couldn’t overcome it.
Trey Bolton scored a pair of touchdowns for Cleburne County, which its season at 8-5. That’s the squad’s most wins since 2010.
“We did what we needed to do under the circumstances,” Cleburne County coach Michael Shortt said. “The way the season went, the number of injuries we had, our kids fought and fought. They battled tonight. We gave it everything we had. We gave them a heck of a game up there for a half.”
The Tigers battled their way back into the game in the second quarter.
After surrendering 21 unanswered points, Bolton ran 5 yards for a touchdown.
The touchdown was set up by Christian Henson’s 70-yard pass to Jason Henson.
After Oneonta added a field goal on its next possession to make it 24-7, Christian Henson found Jeremiah Blake for a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-13 just before halftime. The score was set up by a 43-yard run by Christian Henson.
After halftime, the Redskins proved to be too much for the Tigers as they added 20 more unanswered points to their lead.
On its final possession, Cleburne County went on an 80-yard drive to the end zone, capped off by Bolton’s second touchdown on a run of 4 yards.
Oneonta ran out the clock on its next possession.
The last time the Tigers made it to the state quarterfinals, the current seniors were in the first grade.
“It’s more than what I ever dreamed of,” senior defensive lineman Matthew Shortt said. “It really is. Coming into this year, I didn’t know how we were going to be.
“But, as the season progressed, I thought, ‘Oh we’re going to do something.’ And we came out and we did it.”
As for the players who are returning, Cleburne County coach Michael Shortt said he wants the deep playoff run to be a learning experience.
“Hopefully, it will make them hungry to come back, work in the weight room to do the things this senior class did,” he said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Matthew Shortt said that seeing the season end is hard to put into words.
“To play for this school, for this town, for this community, it’s amazing,” he said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here.
“If the young guys keep it up, we’re going to be even better next year.”