Photo: Beau Cabell/Macon Telegraph. Peachtree Ridge's Brad Roby and Northside-Warner Robin's Brison Williams (12) both go up for a catch Friday.
WARNER ROBINS -- Peachtree Ridge's run at another state championship game ended on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
Northside-Warner Robins' Devon Pike kicked a 32-yard field goal in the third overtime to lead the Eagles to a 20-17 victory.
"That team is extremely athletic, was the Region 1 champion, beat Lowndes, so I'm really proud of our guys," Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Ballard said. "We played with the best in Region 1. We challenged them and it took three overtimes for them to beat us."
Peachtree Ridge (10-3) reached the AAAAA state finals last season and was on track for another semifinals appearance in Friday's game. The Lions let a 10-point lead slip away and Northside scored in the final minutes of the game to force overtime.
"They got excited after that touchdown," Ballard said. "But so did our kids. We played hard, fought 'til the end and wanted to win."
Justin Watts missed a 31-field goal in the first overtime possession. Northside's Pike attempted a 32-yard field goal on first down and missed wide left to force the second overtime. Dan Mansteller threw a 15-yard TD pass to Quinn Green to give the Eagles a 17-10 lead.
Peachtree Ridge countered with a two-yard touchdown run by Chris Sawdey to tie it at 17-17 and force the third OT.
The Lions tried to take the lead in the third overtime with a 25-yard field goal by Watts, but it was partially blocked by Brison Williams. Pike lined up again on first down and nailed the game-winning field goal.
"We had our chances to make plays," Ballard said. "It doesn't come down to one play. When the game is really close like that, we can go back and look at a lot of plays that would have made the difference."
Northside (12-1), which won its 45th straight game at McConnell-Talbert Stadium, will play Newnan in the semifinals next week.
"We raised our level for this game to play with these guys," Ballard said.
Peachtree Ridge battled for field position in the first quarter before it finally put together a scoring drive. Watts kicked a 47-yard field goal to put the Lions ahead 3-0.
Nick Lombardo missed on his first five pass attempts, but finally connected with a receiver. He hit Brad Roby for a 33-yard touchdown pass just two plays after Sawdey rumbled 34 yards. The score gave the Lions a 10-0 lead with 5:50 left in the half.
Lombardo was 6 of 16 for 85 yards, while Sawdey rushed for 106 yards.
Williams, a South Carolina commitment, responded with a 67-yard kickoff return, but Juan Burnett ended the scoring threat with an interception.
The Eagles got the ball back and 17-and 19-yard receptions by running back Shaquille O'Neil put Northside in the red zone. The Eagles had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Pike and trailed 10-3 at the half.
Neither team managed an offensive threat until the end of the fourth quarter.
Northside's Mansteller (9 of 23, 144) threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Williams and the future Gamecock outraced Roby for the TD with 3:43 left in the game to tie it 10-10.
Northside had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. Pike attempted a 45-yard field goal with 45 seconds left, but the kick went wide right.
Peachtree Ridge was plagued by fumbles in its first two playoff wins, fumbling the ball 11 times and losing it four times. Against Northside, the Lions never fumbled but were hit for 71 yards on 10 penalties.
Peachtree Ridge's defense held Northside to minus-2 yards rushing, the fewest it has allowed all season.
"They kept us in the ball game and let us win the game," Ballard said.
It was the first meeting between the two schools and likely the last for a while. Northside is expected to move down to Class AAAA next season, where it won state championships in 2006 and 2007.
"The seniors fought their tails off, all of them," Ballard said. "When you get down to the final eight they all are good."