SYLVESTER — The Cairo Syrupmakers are once again region champions.
A year after Westover ended Cairo's three-year title reign, the Syrupmakers captured their sixth region title since 2007 Friday night with a 27-20 victory over the Worth County Rams in the Region 1-AAAA title game.
Cairo finished the regular season with an 8-2 record and will host a state first-round playoff game next week.
"You've got to give Worth County a lot of credit. Their kids play hard and they play with a good tempo," Cairo coach Tom Fallaw said. "It really took one of our best efforts tonight to beat them. I think our kids overcame a lot. Worth kept fighting, and so did we."
The win over the Rams marked the Syrupmakers' second victory over Worth County this year, following a 29-6 victory in the fifth game of the season. There was considerably more at stake in Friday night's game at Worth County Stadium, however. Along with the region title and two potential home playoff games at stake, the Rams were trying to end a 14-game losing streak to the Syrupmakers. A late touchdown toss helped cut the Rams' deficit to 27-20 but a failed onside kick attempt and two first downs sealed Cairo's victory.
"We came back this game and knew they were going to be different, knew they were going to play with a different speed and they did," Fallaw said. "You've got to give our kids credit, though. We stopped what they do well."
Cairo's defense held Worth County to just 35 offensive plays.
The Syrupmakers offense thrived with its ground assault, churning out 267 rushing yards, led by Jeremiah Hill's 181 and two touchdowns. Cairo leaned on Hill for 36 rushing attempts and he delivered, scoring on touchdown runs of 11 and one yards.
"He ran like the old Jeremiah. He had been tip-toeing a little bit in our opinion," Fallaw said. "Sometimes that happens. When you're a kid that's rushed for as many yards as he has, sometimes you get up there and try to look for something instead of hitting it like he used to when he was young and eager. Tonight he was old and eager."
Stacy Masten scored Cairo's other touchdown on a five yard quarterback keeper that completely fooled the Worth County defense in the third quarter.
Cole Phillips booted two fourth-quarter field goals for the Syrupmakers.