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Loganville edges Apalachee in thriller

BETHLEHEM -- In a game that will be long remembered by everyone in attendance, visiting Loganville rallied from a 13-point deficit to edge Apalachee 45-42 on a wild Senior Night at R. Harold Harrison Stadium in Bethlehem.

After touchdown runs by Alantae Billings and Zay Henry staked Apalachee (4-6, 4-6 Region 8-AAAA) to a 16-7 halftime lead, the Wildcats appeared on the way to their fifth victory in their last six games.

"It was a tale of two different halves," said Apalachee head coach Shane Davis, "and halves of the season for us."

It certainly was a tale of two halves for Loganville (5-5, 5-5 Region 8-AAAA), as the Red Devils erupted for 38 second-half points. In the third quarter, Loganville's Bernard Merriweather and Braxton Beck sandwiched TD runs around a TD run by Apalachee's Eric Tanner to set the stage for a wild fourth quarter.

Nursing a 23-22 lead, Apalachee quarterback Clint Ashe capped a 16-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to push the Wildcats lead to 30-22 with 8:00 minutes remaining.

Loganville answered the bell, quickly driving 63 yards in 50 seconds. After a 1-yard TD run by Jawann Saffold, Merriweather added the two-point conversion to tie the game 30-30 with 7:10 left in the fourth quarter.

In a bold move, Loganville recovered the ensuing on-side kick to retain possession. Evan Messer rewarded the gamble four plays later with a 1-yard TD plunge. The following 2-point conversion by Merriweather gave Loganville their first lead of the game 38-30.

Apalachee refused to yield. Following a 46-yard pass from Ashe to Jermaine Smith, Henry powered 10 yards for his second TD to carve the lead to 38-36 with 3:37 on the clock.

Following an unsuccessful 2-point conversion, Loganville recovered an on-side kick and appeared poised to ice the game. However, on the first play of the drive, Saffold was upended and coughed up the ball. Apalachee's Von Heard scooped it up and sprinted to the Loganville 30-yard line. From there, Tanner went six yards up the middle for a TD and Apalachee regained an improbable lead of 42-38 with 1:55 remaining.

Starting the ensuing possession on its 22-yard line, Loganville embarked on an epic drive fueled by desperation. With 12 seconds left and no timeouts, Ford scrambled 8 yards for his second TD with three seconds remaining to give the Devils a thrilling 45-42 win.

"It was probably the best, and worst, 4-6 season I've ever been a part of, with the way we started and the way we played late," Davis said of his squad that rallied from a 0-4 start. "Our kids have a lot of heart and character. Our kids fought hard. We have an unbelievable staff, and I'm awfully proud of them."

Ford rushed for 169 yards on 14 carries and 2 TDs to lead Loganville. Henry led Apalachee with 186 yards on 23 carries and 2 TDs. Tanner added 87 yards on 17 carries and 2 TDs for the Wildcats.