West Limestone falls to Gordo in 4A quarterfinals

West Limestone's River Helms is brought down by a pair of Gordo defenders during Thursday night's playoff game. Helms had four receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown in his final game for the Wildcats.

With their green jerseys, yellow helmets and stylized G logo, Gordo's football team dresses like the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Thursday night, the Green Wave played like them, too, dominating West Limestone to take a 48-13 win in the Class 4A playoff quarterfinals.

“People thought I was lying when I said they looked like the Green Bay Packers,” West Limestone coach Shelby Davis said. “Sometimes you just run up against somebody that's bigger and badder. They're good.”

The Wildcats were no match for the athletes Gordo lined up all over the field. The Green Wave (12-1) outgained West Limestone 342-40 in the first half and had a 35-7 lead at the break.

West Limestone's only touchdown in the first half came on a 95-yard kickoff return by Thorne Slaton that briefly cut Gordo's lead to 19-7 early in the second quarter. However, that's as close as the Wildcats would get, as Gordo scored the next 29 points to lead 48-7 after three quarters.

“They are by far the best team we've seen all year,” Davis said. “Look, I've coached in 6A, and they're as good as some of those 6A teams.”

Gordo wasted no time getting started, driving for a touchdown on its opening drive. Quarterback Tanner Bailey scored on a 4-yard run on fourth-and-goal to put the Green Wave up 7-0. Gordo added to its lead on the final play of the first quarter when Bailey threw a swing pass to Hunter Ogden, who eluded three would-be tacklers and raced 52 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

That was the first of six consecutive possessions Gordo scored touchdowns on.

Bailey, who holds multiple SEC offers, threw his second touchdown pass of the game on a fourth-and-5 play from the 22-yard line when he threw a screen pass to running back Rayshawn Williams, who ran untouched into the end zone.

Slaton returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to cut Gordo's lead to 12 points, but the Green Wave immediately answered with another touchdown, this one on a 13-yard run by Izayah Edwards on yet another fourth-down play.

“We were close in a lot of situations and just couldn't get it done,” Davis said. “That goes off their talent, and they've got good coaching. They're a really good team, that's all I can tell you.”

Gordo's final touchdown of the first half came on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bailey to Lawson Neel. Gordo got two more touchdowns in the third quarter, as Bailey threw his third and fourth touchdown passes of the night. The first was a 17-yard pass to JT Billups, and the second was another 17-yard toss to Wells Perrigin. Bailey completed 15 of 21 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns.

West Limestone had the only fourth-quarter score. Quarterback Colin Patterson tossed a pop pass to River Helms, who raced around left end and streaked 36 yards for a touchdown with 2:34 remaining.

Helms had four receptions for 52 yards and a score in his final game for the Wildcats. Senior running back Slaton led West Limestone with 62 yards on 16 carries to go along with his kickoff return touchdown.

Despite the loss, Davis said his players should be proud of what they accomplished this season. The Wildcats finished the season with an 11-2 record. It is the second-most wins in school history, behind only the state runner-up 1988 team, which went 12-3. This year's Wildcats team is also just the second team in program history to win more than one playoff game in the same season and won the school's second-ever region championship.

“There is nothing for them to hang their heads about,” Davis said. “They played a great season. Not many people thought we'd be in this situation. Hopefully, we can build off this and keep it rolling the next few years.”

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