After getting pummeled by Westfield School’s rushing attack all night long, Loganville Christian’s defense finally bowed up and stopped the Hornets on three plays in two overtime periods to secure its first victory in a first-round high school football playoff game in four years, winning 24-17 at The Hawk Friday night.
Trailing 17-14 with 10 minutes left in regulation, LCA drove from its own 13-yard line to the Westfield 9, where freshman kicker Carter Smith booted a 26-yard field goal with 59 seconds showing on the clock to send the game to overtime.
Over four periods, the Hornets had compiled over 270 yards rushing, led by the senior tandem of Michael Fitzpatrick and Hunter Smallwood. But in the first overtime period, LCA held Westfield to a single yard, forcing a three-and-out for the first time in the game.
The Lions couldn’t score on their first offensive series, but it took them just four plays in the second, sparked by a diving 26-yard catch by Brent Taylor to set up a 2-yard TD run by senior Jordan Jackson, who finished with 21 carries for 116 yards and all three of his team’s touchdowns.
The Hornets had one more shot, but Taylor deflected a desperation pass on fourth down, setting off a raucous celebration.
“Hey, 23 years old and getting my first playoff win,” an elated first-year LCA head coach Patrick Stewart said. “That was definitely big for me and this team.”
With the victory, LCA (5-6) extended its membership in the Georgia Independent School Association another week and kept alive hopes of an elusive state championship. The Lions will hit the road to southeast Georgia next week to face Pinewood Christian (8-1), the Region 2-AAA champ that had a bye.
Under the direction of their novice head coach, LCA got off to a fast start, winning its first three games of the year before dropping five of six, including a 40-14 setback to Heritage last week which cost them the region championship and a first-round bye.
But Stewart rallied his squad, preaching the need for unity and perseverance.
“The word of the week was ‘strain,’” Stewart said. “And these guys really did that tonight. They kept battling and never gave up, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
In a first half plagued by penalties — 13 between both teams — the Hornets grounded out a pair of touchdowns on two of its first three possessions and carried a 14-7 lead into intermission.
The Lions took the opening kickoff and quickly drove to the Westfield 15, sparked by a pair of Cole Pace completions, the first for 28 yards to Jackson and the second for 29 yards to Gavin Sharp.
But LCA fumbled away the potential scoring drive and the Hornets took over and moved 84 yards in 12 plays, culminated by a 2-yard Fitzpatrick run. The PAT was no good.
After forcing the Hornets to punt for the only time in the half on the first play of the second quarter, the Lions started at their own 21 and went the distance, without penalties, using four different backs. Jackson ran the final 7 around the right end for the score and Smith’s kick put the Lions up 7-6.
But Westfield immediately went back on top with a seven play, 68-yard drive, finished off by Fitzpatrick’s second touchdown on a 3-yard run. He followed that with a 3-yard run to convert the 2-point conversion.
LCA tied the game on its first possession of the second half after forcing a Westfield fumble at its own 49.
From there, the Lions drove the distance in 10 plays, with Davis scoring his second TD of the game on a 1-yard run.
Friday’s game was the first and likely last meeting between LCA and Westfield since the Lions are scheduled to move to the Georgia High School Association next fall.