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Division title for Vipers bittersweet after loss to South Georgia


Tennessee Valley claimed their first division championship on Saturday night.  However, they did it in losing fashion. Due to af2 tie-breaking procedures, the Vipers clinched the division by losing by less than 22 points.

The Vipers fell 47-45 to the South Georgia Wildcats in the regular season finale.

It is a bittersweet championship for the Vipers, as the number two overall seed and a second home playoff game was on the line Saturday night.

Unfortunately, the Vipers fell to the third overall seed in the playoffs and will now have just one home playoff game, barring an upset by the seventh or eighth seeds in the American Conference.

Tennessee Valley took an early 7-0 lead with a pass from Kevin Eakin to Jeremy Grier after stopping South Georgia inside the red zone via a Travis Blanchard interception.

A turnover on downs by the Wildcats then allowed the Vipers to take a two touchdown lead as Jeremy Stephens hauled in an Eakin touchdown pass.

South Georgia took control, but had to use all four chances inside the two-yard line to finally get into the end zone with a one-yard Darnell Kennedy rush. Kennedy finished with 15 yards on eight carries.

On the ensuing drive, Tennessee Valley had to settle for a Nick Hayes field goal, stretching the lead to 17-7.

The Wildcats and Vipers then traded scores until the 7:45 mark in the fourth quarter. After a Clenton Rafe touchdown grab to pull the Wildcats within four, Blanchard took the kickoff and fumbled on the return. Mel Long recovered the fumble and South Georgia scored on the ensuing possession to take the 47-45 lead.

Tennessee Valley had one last shot, but could not complete a single pass on the drive and attempted a 31-yard field goal to go ahead.

The field goal attempt was wide left, but in classic af2 fashion, the ball bounced off the rebound net and into the hands of a Vipers lineman. However, a halo violation was called against the Vipers, negating the recovery and handing the Wildcats the ball and the game.

"It's disappointing to lose this one, 'cause I wanted (the playoff games) here," said Eric Scott.