WARNER ROBINS — For the second time in three weeks, the Northside Eagles found a way to beat a team from Winnersville. This time, it was the No. 1 team in the state.

Fourth-ranked Northside upset top-ranked Lowndes 10-7 in a classic game that was decided on the final play of the night.

A 36-yard field goal attempt by Lowndes’ Jed Solomon sailed just wide of the goalposts as time expired, and the Eagles hung on for the win.

It was a sad end to a hard-fought ballgame for the Vikings.

On its final possession, Lowndes (5-1, 2-1 Region 1-AAAAA) drove from its own 28 to the Northside 4 in about three minutes. Quarterback Cole Parker had two of the biggest plays of the drive. Parker raced 16 yards on a bootleg on fourth-and-4 from the Eagles’ 47, then he dashed 24 yards to the 4 two plays later, putting the Vikings in position to score.

Then came a crucial play with nine seconds left and the ball at the 4. Parker tried to throw for wide receiver Josh Clemons in the end zone. Clemons and Northside defensive back Brison Williams got tied up. While fighting for position, Williams went down, and Clemons hauled in the pass for what could have been a touchdown. The official in the end zone had a tough call to make, whether to let the contact from both players slide or flag one of them for interference. Unfortunately for Lowndes, he decided to penalize Clemons for offensive pass interference. The call negated the touchdown and pushed Lowndes back to the Northside 19.

Solomon came in to try the field goal on the final play of the game, but the kick could not find its way between the uprights.

Northside (5-0, 3-0 region) must have either a lucky charm or a voodoo doll of a kicker. In a span of three weeks, the Eagles managed to defeat both Valdosta and Lowndes by three points each. In those two games, Winnersville kickers missed a total of seven field goals (four by Valdosta), including kicks in the final seconds of both games that would have tied the scores.

Northside had scored what turned out to be the winning points on the previous possession. Lowndes had shut down the Eagles’ offense in the second half. But Northside head coach Conrad Nix had one last trick up his sleeve. With the ball at the Eagles’ 20, quarterback Briar Van Brunt faked a handoff, then faked a reverse and stood there for a couple of seconds with the ball behind his back. Then he threw deep, and connected with a wide open Cartrell Brooks down the field. Brooks caught the ball and ran all the way to the Lowndes 20 before being tackled. Northside wound up moving the ball to the 3. After Lowndes linebacker Telvin Smith knocked away a pass in the end zone on third down, Dillon Mixon kicked a 20-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 10-7 lead, and set the stage for Lowndes’ final drive.

For most of the game, it was a defensive battle, with each team managing just one touchdown.

Northside scored on its first drive. After stopping the Vikings three-and-out and forcing a punt, the Eagles took over at their own 47. They drove 53 yards in nine plays, 50 of them on the ground, and put the first points on the board. On first-and-goal from the Vikings’ 4, Van Brunt took the snap from the shotgun and raced straight up the middle into the end zone for the touchdown. Mixon’s extra point gave Northside a 7-0 lead.

Both squads drove inside the other team’s 30 in the second quarter. But Mixon missed a 33-yard attempt, and Solomon’s 44-yard kick with 11 seconds left in the half fell short, and Northside went to the locker room leading 7-0 at halftime.

Lowndes tied the score with a nine-play, 73-yard drive midway through the third quarter. Robert Anderson ran the ball three times for 41 yards on the drive, while Khary Franklin carried five times for 28 yards. Anderson’s 16-yard run off right tackle on third down moved the ball down to the 23. Two plays later, with the ball at the 19, Anderson got the ball on a trap. He got through the Eagles’ defensive line, went left, got past a few more defenders and ran into the end zone for the touchdown.

The Vikings had a chance to score again on their next possession, after Tyler Hunter picked off a pass and returned it to the Eagle 35. The Vikings moved the ball all the way to the 16, but Northside halted the drive, and Solomon’s 33-yard attempt went wide right on the first play of the fourth quarter.

That was the last serious scoring chance either team had until Brooks’ long reception.

Franklin led the Vikings with 103 yards rushing on 17 carries. Anderson had 60 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while Parker rushed for 37 yards on four carries.

For Northside, Van Brunt passed for 91 yards and rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Lowndes will host crosstown rival Valdosta next Friday.

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