Though the Battle for the Gate might be just two years old, the feelings inside the losing Palmetto Ridge locker room afterwards will last a lifetime.
Golden Gate had just edged the Bears 21-19 and Palmetto Ridge coach Tim Speakman was already prepared to address his troops.
"It was the most upset weve seen our kids. I told them that the scoreboard didnt mean anything," Speakman said. "In our hearts we had won that game."
Hearts aside, the Bears record still dropped to 3-6, overall, and 0-4 in district matchups while the Titans improved to 4-5 (1-3, district).
Palmetto Ridge trailed 14-3 midway through the third quarter, when they stymied an apparent fake punt by Golden Gate.
Titans punter Jeff David tried to run for a first down but was tackled at his own 7-yard line before he could do so.
A minute later Bears quarterback Trey Carter connected with Tremaine Dale for a 5-yard touchdown pass followed by a successful two-point conversion to close the gap to three points.
"Stopping that fake punt really gave us some momentum," Speakman said. "We fed on it and were able to take control of the game."
Golden Gate took back control when quarterback Joey Woods threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Junior Napoleon. The Bears where able to respond with another touchdown but saw their hopes for a victory dashed when an offsides penalty on a fourth-and-one play allowed the Titans to regain possession of the ball and run out the clock.
"We had a couple of penalties that hurt," Speakman said. "One that negated a touchdown that would have given us the lead and that one at the end. We played outstanding and deserved to win.
"Afterwards, I told our players to keep their heads up. The game was something we could build on."
What Speakman was talking about was the spirited week of practice his players had leading up to the game.
"That was the most motivated Ive seen our players during practice," said Speakman who is in his first year as head coach at Palmetto Ridge. It has been some year personally for Speakman. Along with being named to lead the Bears in April after serving as tight ends coach at Appalachian State, he and wife, Jennifer, had a baby girl, Taylor Marie, in January.
"There was a different atmosphere," he said. "The kids were internally motivated. You could tell it meant a great deal to them.
"But now they can see how a great week of practice results in us playing well. Though its been frustrating at times, weve gotten better each week. Im really looking forward to the future. Im excited about our program."