SGA loses heartbreaker at home to Edmund Burke, 15-14

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

DAMASCUS -- The Apostle Paul may have been blinded on his way to Damascus, but the Southwest Georgia Academy football team was blindsided after it was already there.

Edmund Burke Academy stunned the Warriors, 15-14, with a long touchdown pass and 2-point conversion in the final minutes of their GISA AA state semifinal playoff game Friday night in Damascus.

The Warriors (8-2) had gone up 14-7 on a Taylor Tabb 7-yard TD run with only 2:42 left in the game, but Spartans quarterback Logan Christian hit Dawson Atkinson for a 47-yard touchdown pass just 37 seconds later, and then the pair hooked up again for the decisive two-point conversion.

"We had a breakdown there in coverage and just kinda fell asleep. But I guess that's part of it (sometimes)," SGA head coach David Bell said. "We had a heck of a year. You just hate to see it (end like this). We should have won that game and we didn't. You can't win them all ... but they have a good football team, too."

The game started out as a defensive battle as Edmund Burke (8-3) finished with only 11 total yards after the first quarter, while Tabb was held to 23 yards on eight carries.

Tabb did get a chance to score with 1:06 left in the first, but the ball fell out of his outstretched right hand in the endzone, and the Spartans recovered it.

"He's a tremendous player," Bell said. "He hadn't turned the ball over like that all year, but that's part of it. You're going to fumble the ball, you just have to overcome it."

The teams battled to a 0-0 halftime score before the Warriors finally got on the board with a 16-yard run by Tabb with 7:45 left in the third, which was -- ironically -- set up by Tabb's interception at the 41-yard line.

The Spartans tied things up at 7-7 with Christian's 16-yard pass to receiver Alex Sturkie with 6:02 left in the third.

SGA got the ball back again with 15 seconds left in the frame, and milked the clock into the fourth quarter, scoring on Tabb's 7-yard run with 2:42 left.

It seemed like the Warriors were in good position to win, but after what appeared to be an onside kick, Edmund Burke had starting field position at its own 44-yard line.

"We're awful at kicking, so we were just trying to kind of slip it down the field," Bell said. "But we didn't get it to work like we wanted to."

Two plays after that, Christian hit Atkinson for the 47-yarder, and the two-point conversion gamble that silenced the crowd and paid off for the Spartans and coach Buddy Sorrow.

"S-O-R-R-O-W, like sadness, but there's not any of that tonight," said Sorrow, when asked how to spell his name. "We had been worried about throwing it all night. ... Then on the two-point play, we decided to go for two because I didn't want to go into overtime. At my place, I might have decided to go for one and tie it, but with all the emotion they got here, we went for the play, and it worked."

Tabb finished with 28 carries for 115 yards for SGA, while junior quarterback Dillon Driver had a rough night, as he was intercepted three times, sacked three times and was the receiver's defender on both of Edmund Burke's touchdowns.

It was a also tough last high school game overall for Tabb, along with the other seniors on the team.

"(I told them after the game) just about the kind of legacy they left behind. We lost some good guys this year, and the school's not going to be better for it, because they put so much into it," Bell said. "They're an outstanding group. It's a hard lesson when you have seniors graduating, (but) life goes on. There's always next year, but it's a hard lesson sometimes."

The Spartans advanced to play undefeated Piedmont in next week's state title game.