Photo by Christine Troyke
LOGANVILLE -- There's one reason the Grayson football team won't get a chance to play for the state championship this year. The Rams couldn't find a way to deal with two-way Newnan standout Alec Ogletree.
The University of Georgia commit made two plays Friday night that altered the outcome of the close game and enabled No. 3-ranked Newnan to come away with a 9-7 victory over No. 1 Grayson at Grayson Community Stadium.
Ogletree, a 6-foot-3 senior who starts at safety and wide receiver, made a leaping one-handed catch to score the go-ahead touchdown, then tore around the right end to block the game winning field goal attempt with 11.5 seconds left to secure the victory.
"I just prayed that God would let me get out there and make a play," Ogletree said about the block. "God worked his magic ... I'm speechless."
Grayson appeared to be out of luck after Austin Clark's 52-yard field goal attempt fell short with 2:33 remaining in the game. But the Rams' defense came up with a big three-and-out stop and got the ball at the Newnan 36 with 1:02 left.
Quarterback Patrick Santry threw an 11-yard pass to Korey Jones and Ean Pemberton carried for 8 to the 17. Pemberton added a yard to get the ball in the middle of the field and Santry spiked the ball to stop the clock.
Clark waited through a Newnan timeout and confidently lined up for the kick, which was well within his range. But Ogletree, lined up on the outside, got a quick jump and rejected the kick, which pushed Newnan (13-0) into the state semifinals.
As the sizeable Newnan crowd celebrated the results and fans waited to have their photograph taken with Ogletree, the green and gold-clad Grayson fans were left half-dazed. Players were weeping on the shoulders of their parents and teammates were left to console each other.
"We left it all on the field," said linebacker Shawn Green. "They made the play when they had to."
Green was especially envious of Ogletree's go-ahead touchdown grab in the third quarter. On third-and-goal from the 6, Lendell Arnold lobbed it in the end zone and Ogletree leapt to snag the ball in his right hand.
"That was the play, that catch," Green said. "Everybody was in position and he was the only one who could have caught the ball."
Grayson's offense was never able to get much traction, a result of bad field position that was exacerbated by Newnan's size and quickness. The Rams (12-1) had only one of their patented yard-chewing, clock-crunching drives, that a 15-play, 76-yard march that took 7:26 off the board. Terry Williams capped it with a 3-yard run that put Grayson ahead 6-3 with 5:58 left in the first half.
Grayson's other problem was two uncharacteristic fumbles. Pemberton, who rushed 33 times for 106 yards, coughed it up near midfield as time ran out in the first half. More stinging was a fumble by Frank Bebbs at the Grayson 40, a loose ball that was recovered by -- who else -- Alec Ogletree.
"I thought we had it," Santry said. "We knew they were a tough team and it was going to take everything we had to beat them. It just wasn't our night."