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Lions claw way to win

Photo by Christine Troyke

Photo by Christine Troyke

ATLANTA -- A game between Peachtree Ridge and McEachern, which seemed to be plodding along, took a dramatic turn in the fourth quarter.

And it was the sixth-ranked Lions that came up with the biggest late drama.

After Justin Watts' 29-yard field goal with 2:01 remaining capped a 17-point final frame and gave the Lions a three-point lead, they watched as McEachern's Nicholas St. Germaine apparently answered with a 47-yard field goal to tie the game with 2 seconds left.

But officials awarded Peachtree Ridge a timeout just prior to the kick, and St. Germaine's re-kick sailed just wide left, giving the Lions a 24-21 win over the No. 7 Indians in the finale of the Corky Kell Classic on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

"It was a good first game," Peachtree Ridge coach Bill Ballard said. "It was intense. That's why we're happy to play in an event like this."

It appeared the Lions were in trouble trailing 14-7 heading into the fourth quarter.

But with McEachern going for it on fourth and 3 at its own 47-yard line, a surge by the defensive line got into the Indians' backfield, forcing a bad pitch from quarterback Trent Thompson.

Tyler Botts picked off the ball in midair and rumbled 49 yards for the score that pulled the Lions even at 14-14 with 11:01 to play.

"That was huge," Ballard said of Botts' heroics. "That changed the momentum of the game. The defense played hard."

So did the offense as the Lions got the ball back and drove 33 yards in five plays, capped by Billy Best's 1-yard sneak, to take a 21-14 lead with 6:40 left.

McEachern quickly answered when Zarold Wilder rumbled 73 of his game-high 165 yards for a score that pulled the Indians even at 21-21 with 6:18 left.

But Peachtree Ridge had an answer of its own by driving 69 yards in 11 plays to set up Watts' boot, which set up the late game dramatics.

Turnovers and penalties were big problems for the Lions in the first half.

A fumble on the first play from scrimmage gave McEachern the ball at the Peachtree Ridge 23-yard line, but the Lions were able to dodge that bullet when the defense held and a 53-yard field goal attempt by St. Germain fell just short.

But other mistakes proved costly. An interception by McEachern's DeNard Ford in the end zone in the second quarter thwarted a nine-play, 51-yard drive that took the Lions all the way to the Indians' 19. Peachtree Ridge was also flagged four times for 40 yards in penalties in the opening 24 minutes

However, the Lions were able to answer after McEachern took a 7-0 lead when Trent Thompson capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive with his 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Davis with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

Peachtree Ridge had a long drive of its own, marching 80 yards in 10 plays and draining 5:17 off the clock before Diandre Atwater barreled in from 3 yards out to tie the game 7-7 with 24 seconds left in the opening quarter.