By Will Grice
For the Forsyth County News
Denmark fell to Cedartown 7-3 on Friday in their season opener.
The first game of the season was a sloppy one for the Danes, who turned the ball over three times and had more than 10 penalties.
“We’ve got to stop turning the ball over,” Denmark head coach Mike Palmieri said. “We have to have better discipline and be better prepared.”
The first half was a defensive struggle. Any time either team gained some momentum on offense, a couple of penalties would slow down the attack.
The Danes gained excellent field position after Cedartown quarterback Reece Tanner turned the ball over at his own 5-yard line. A false start, holding and delay of game penalty forced the Danes to settle for a 40-yard field-goal attempt, which kicker Trey Glymph missed.
The second half presented plenty of opportunities for the Danes to take control, as the score remained 0-0 heading into halftime. Unfortunately for the Danes, quarterbacking duo Michael McClellan and Jacob Nelson struggled to get the Danes into the end zone.
“Both of them did some good things,” said Palmieri. “But, ultimately, we have to play better, and it’s our job to help get them better prepared.”
On the second play of the second half, McClellan threw an interception to Cedartown cornerback Harlem Diamond. The ensuing Bulldog drive ended in a touchdown, with junior running back Patrick Gardner becoming the lone participant to reach the end zone.
Denmark's offense gave the Danes an opportunity to tie the game, with the ball at the Bulldogs 7-yard line, but Nelson threw an interception in the end zone, ending the Danes chances of scoring.
The next drive of the game saw McClellan in at quarterback. McClellan completed a couple of passes to tight end Lane Grayson, setting up a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Running back Amon Williams thought he had a touchdown, but a holding call pushed the Danes back. After the drive stalled, Glymph came in and made a 29-yard field goal, scoring the only points of the game for the Danes.
After a three-and-out on the next drive for the Danes, with Nelson once again in at quarterback, the Danes needed the defense to give them one more chance to win the game. A huge tackle for loss by linebacker Drew Clare on third down gave the Danes the ball with two minutes left in the game.
Palmieri entrusted McClellan with the chance to win the game. With the ball at the Cedartown 40-yard line, McClellan threw an interception on the first play of the drive, ending the Danes chances of winning the game.
“We played hard tonight,” said Palmieri. “We are not in it for moral victories, though. We all have to work harder, and it’s my job to make sure we are better prepared.”
Denmark falls to 0-1 and will host Banneker next week at 7:30 p.m. Friday.