The Stephens County Indians come up just short on Senior Night, but still earn a spot in the state playoffs.
Lumpkin County scored on a three-yard touchdown pass from Daniel McCrary to Johnathan Gilreath with less than 30 seconds to go to give Lumpkin County a 31-28 win over the Indians Friday night at the Reservation.
Despite the loss, Stephens County will advance to this week’s state AAAA playoffs as Monroe Area beat Eastside 47-19.
Indians’ Head Coach Travis Noland said it is a tough way to end the regular season.
“It is disappointing how we played the first half effort-wise and execution-wise,” said Noland. “Their quarterback had a great night. Their receiver had a great night. Our kids fought back to give ourselves a chance to win, but we did not get it done. We will go back to work on Monday and try to find a way to play for 48 minutes against Marist.”
Stephens County took a 7-0 lead on its opening possession as Jermaine Barnett scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard run.
However, Lumpkin County scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 17-7 lead at the half, getting an 8-yard touchdown run from Tim Summersett and a 4-yard touchdown pass from McCrary to Gunner Wood, along with a 22-yard Noah Cromer field goal.
Stephens County answered back in the third, cutting it to 17-14 on Desmond Wheeler’s 16-yard touchdown run.
The Indians then took a 21-17 lead early in the fourth on a 19-yard touchdown run from Wheeler.
After McCrary found Gilreath for a 56-yard touchdown pass to give Lumpkin County the lead back, Wheeler’s third touchdown run, from seven yards out, gave Stephens County a 28-24 lead and set the stage for the late Lumpkin County comeback.
Wheeler and Barnett each had over 100 yards rushing for Stephens County, while Gilreath finished with 17 catches for more than 200 yards for Lumpkin County as McCrary through for nearly 300 yards.
Stephens County finishes the regular season 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the region, while Lumpkin County ends its year 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the region.
Next up for Stephens County is a first-round playoff game on the road at Region 6-AAAA champion Marist this coming week.
In other Region 8-AAAA action, Chestatee beat Madison County 42-0 and Lanier beat Walnut Grove 41-0.
Looking around the area, Hart County clinched a home playoff game with a 33-30 win over North Oconee and Franklin County ended its season 1-9 with a 33-0 loss to Elbert County.
Arby’s Player of the Game: Desmond Wheeler
Hart EMC Lineman of the Game: Gary Walker
Mill Creek Veterinary Clinic Sub of the Game: Jermaine Barnett
First Baptist Church Spirit Award: Tyrik Combs