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Sherwood pushes Tattnall to brink, falls short, 17-14

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

MACON -- Tattnall Square's Josh Sumrall just wanted one more chance. Thanks to the Trojans' defense, he got it.

With only eight seconds remaining in a close-fought battle with Sherwood Christian on Friday in the GISA Class AAA state playoff opener for both, Sumrall kicked an 18-yard field goal to give Tattnall a 17-14 victory

In the first quarter, Tattnall (10-1) took the opening drive 44 yards in 10 plays before stalling at the Eagles' 11-yard line. The Trojans failed to take the lead, however, when Sumrall missed from 28 yards out, sailing his kick wide right. Sherwood (6-5) then began a march of its own, driving from its own 20-yard line to Tattnall's 26 before the Trojans' Cole Waddell intercepted Eagles quarterback Terrance Burnette.

In the second quarter, the Eagles made it happen on defense when Trojans quarterback Connor Alford fumbled while scrambling to his left. Sherwood's Javaz Williams scooped up the fumble and raced 47 yards down the sideline to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. Tattnall had a double-whammy on the play when leading rusher Andrew Parker was knocked out of the game with a knee injury while blocking.

Despite losing Parker, the Trojans answered immediately by driving 70 yards in 14 plays, capped off by a 22-yard touchdown strike from John Rader to Ryan Mosely to tie it at 7-7. On the Eagles' next possession, Burnette was picked off again, this time by Hal Spires, who raced 50 yards to Sherwood's 15-yard line, setting up Tattnall with great field position just before halftime. Tattnall failed to move the ball, leading to a Sumrall field goal attempt that was tipped at the line and fell short.

After forcing Sherwood to punt to open the third quarter, Tattnall began another long scoring drive. Aided by three Eagles offsides penalties, the Trojans went 59 yards in 11 plays, ending with Andrew Layson plowing in from 3 yards out to give Tattnall a 14-7 lead.

But Sherwood would answer with a long scoring drive of its own, mounting an 18-play, 72-yard march to tie the score at 14 with just over six minutes left in the game. The Trojans seemed to have the Eagles stopped, forcing SCA into a fourth-and-goal from the Trojans' 10-yard line. But Burnette found Chris Roberts in the end zone as Roberts tipped a high pass before whirling and making a circus catch to bring the Eagles even.

After a short drive, Tattnall punted the Eagles deep in their territory, forcing them to start at their own 10-yard line with a little more than two minutes to play. That's when the Trojans defense made its biggest stand of the night as Sherwood lost two yards in three plays and was forced to punt with just over a minute to play.

Led by Waddell and Layson, Tattnall drove to the Eagles' 1-yard line where on second down and 11 seconds remaining, Coach Barney Hester decided to go ahead and kick it. Sumrall was ready this time.

"Those first two I kicked, I didn't get the job done," Sumrall said. "At halftime, I had to clear my head and put it out of my mind. It was a new start in the second half and I just had to make sure I got the job done and put it through."