The Battery Creek football team is going to the playoffs, but the Dolphins still have a bigger goal they are eyeing: a region title.
The Dolphins rode their defense to a 21-14 victory Friday night in Burton against rival Whale Branch, securing a playoff spot and improving to 3-1 in Region 6-AA.
A couple of early touchdown runs by Alterell Chatman gave Battery Creek a quick boost on senior night, and then the home team held off a fourth-quarter comeback by the Warriors.
"We did well -- we knew we had a strong shot," Battery Creek head coach Jim Shuman said. "Our guys believe. Our goal is to hang the first region championship banner in this school. That's been our goal all year and it's still our goal.
"We control our own destiny," he continued. "We win next week, we win the region."
With the win, Shuman believes his team can finish no worse than third in Region 6-AA.
"We're definitely in, we just don't know where we're going," he said of the team's postseason fate.
The Dolphins used their strong defense to set up the offense in the first half, as they stuffed the Whale Branch rushing attack and took advantage of the Warriors' only turnover of the half to give themselves good field position.
Chatman started the scoring, putting Battery Creek on the scoreboard 3 minutes into the game on a 20-yard run. Three minutes later, the junior burst up the middle for a 57-yard touchdown to put the Dolphins ahead 14-0.
The defenses took over from there, until a quick exchange of turnovers late in the second quarter set up Battery Creek for what would turn out to be the decisive points.
Battery Creek converted on a fake punt late in the half, but fumbled on the play to give Whale Branch a shot. Tyrone Washington immediately got the ball back for the Dolphins with an interception of a Jamar Scott pass. On the next play, Battery Creek quarterback Darius Brown hit Adonis Williams along the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead going into halftime.
Battery Creek held Whale Branch to just 68 total yards and three first downs in the first half.
The second half was once again dominated by defense, as the teams traded punts. Whale Branch finally got something cooking in the fourth quarter, led by the power running of DJ Davis. He had a 20-yard touchdown run to start the period, but the kick failed and the Warriors still trailed by 15.
With time running down, Scott hit Jordan Wright with a 27-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 10-play drive for the Warriors. Scott ran in the conversion to cut the deficit to seven points, but the Warriors wouldn't get the ball again. A big first-down conversion by Khalil Chisolm allowed the Dolphins to run out the clock and improve to 4-5 on the season.
"Tonight we didn't beat ourselves," Shuman said. "We didn't have those penalties, we didn't have those mental mistakes. I was very, very pleased and proud of our guys."
Chatman finished with 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Battery Creek. Williams had five receptions for 60 yards.
Davis led Whale Branch (4-5, 2-2) with 13 carries for 90 yards.
"That whole Whale Branch team, I have nothing but praise for," Shuman said. "They played hard. It was a heck of a game."
Battery Creek will host Bishop England next Friday with the Region 6-AA title up for grabs.
"We're going to relish this one, because there's a lot of community pride tonight," Shuman said. "We were kind of that school that people overlooked sometimes, so it's nice to get some exposure for the Creek."
Battery Creek 21, Whale Branch 14
Whale Branch 0 0 0 14 -- 14
Battery Creek 14 7 0 0 -- 21
BC -- Alterell Chatman 20 run (Porter Mahan kick), 9:57
BC -- Chatman 57 run (Mahan kick), 6:53
BC -- Adonis Williams 37 pass from Darius Brown (Mahan kick), 1:24
WB -- DJ Davis 20 run (kick failed), 11:52
WB -- Jordan Wright 27 pass from Jamar Scott (Scott run), 2:10