SNELLVILLE - Berkmar's furious fourth-quarter finish fell short Friday night and the Patriots dropped a 14-9 decision to South Gwinnett in the season finale for both teams at Richard Snell Community Stadium in Snellville.
The Patriots' (3-7, 2-6) unlikely finish surprised the home team after South Gwinnett appeared to put the game away with 5:22 left to play.
Starting on its own 41 after a Berkmar punt, quarterback Michael Polascik hit Aaron Jividen for 49 yards on a middle screen pass, and Jividen raced to the Patroits' 7. Three plays later, Polascik hit Jividen with a 9-yard strike in the left corner of the end zone, putting the Comets up 14-3.
But Berkmar's sporadic offense made two spectacular plays to give it a chance to win. After getting the kickoff, the Patriots converted a fourth-and-15 on a pass from quarterback Xaviir Briggs to Kelsey McGee, moving the ball to the South 40.
Moments later, on fourth-and-inches from the South 30, Briggs kept the ball on a quarterback sneak, but squirted through the South defense for a TD, cutting the lead to 14-9 with 1:37 to play.
After a pass play for the extra point failed, Berkmar's Troy Davis recovered an onside kick at the South 47. Two Briggs runs and a Briggs pass to Kadeem Wise moved the ball to the South 27. But two incomplete passes ended the Patriots' comeback.
"Both teams played very hard on defense, and it was tough to get anything going offensively in the rain," said South Gwinnett head coach John Small. "We were fortunate to make some plays on offense and defense in the fourth quarter."
South (4-6, 4-4) controlled the ball for most of a rainy first half, driving 45 yards in four plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Running back Aaron Wimberly scampered in from 17 yards out for the game's first TD.
Berkmar's Briggs fumbled four straight snaps in the first quarter, and Berkmar didn't make a first down until there were five minutes left in the half. But after a South offside penalty gave Berkmar a first down, Briggs hit wide receiver Jordan Murry on passes of 25 and 39 yards, with the second strike taking the ball to the South 1.
But three running plays lost three yards, and Berkmar had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by freshman Ben Wibonele.
With its defense stiffening, Berkmar threatened to take the lead in the third quarter. After getting the ball at midfield following a South punt, five runs by Anthony Thompson and a 15-yard South penalty put the ball on South's 20. But on third-and-2, after gaining enough yardage for the first down, Berkmar's Michael Rosser fumbled and South recovered on its own 10.
In his final game for South, Polascik completed 13 of 21 passes for 176 yards and a TD, and Jividen caught five passes for 92 yards. Berkmar's sophomore quarterback Briggs completed 6 of 13 for 104 yards.