North Gwinnett's Caleb Scott
SUWANEE -- North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire is thankful. He knows his team shouldn't have beaten Peachtree Ridge Friday.
However, that's exactly what the Bulldogs did as Caleb Scott pulled in a 31-yard touchdown pass for the game-winning score with 17 seconds left.
"We got lucky tonight," Sphire said. "We didn't deserve to win this game. We made too many mistakes and Peachtree Ridge took it to us."
The Lions, who were down to their fourth-string quarterback by night's end, held the lead throughout the game, only to watch it slip away at the end.
"The story is more about them," Sphire said. "Their team was hurting because of injuries and they played like everything was on the line."
Peachtree Ridge took it to North early, jumping out to a 17-0 lead minutes into the second quarter.
Jordan Ellis scored on a 31-yard run with 42 seconds to go in the first quarter, sparking life into the Lions.
On North Gwinnett's first play of its next drive, a mishandled handoff was recovered by the Lions' Aaron Harris. The Lions weren't able to do much with the ball, settling for a Connor Rouleau 36-yard field to make the score 10-0.
The Bulldogs (9-1 overall, 7-1 Region 7-AAAAAA) were forced to punt on their next possession with the Lions again taking advantage. This time it was on the legs on Myron Burton, who had rushes of 43 and 12 yards to give the Lions a 17-0 lead with 9:19 to before halftime.
But, North wouldn't go away. With time ticking away in the second quarter, the Bulldogs drove 88 yards on nine plays, including two 27-yard completions to Russell King and Scott.
Scott finished the drive with a 12-yard pass from Hayden Sphire to close the gap to 17-7.
The Lions (4-6, 4-4) were forced to punt on their next possession, and North got to work quickly on the first play.
Throwing a little trickery at the Lions, the Bulldogs went with the hook-and-ladder on the first play, going 29 yards to the 15-yard line.
However, the drive stalled and Michael D'Angola kicked a 42-yard field goal to make the score 17-10 at halftime.
The Lions were able to respond on the first drive of the second half, taking advantage of a personal-foul penalty to set up Rouleau with a 40-yard field goal.
North responded on its next drive, taking four plays to go 47 yards for a touchdown. Passes by Sphire went for 23 and 17 yards, setting up a two-yard score by Cam Lewis to make the score 20-17.
Scott finished the game with six receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns, while Sphire was 18-for-33 for 274 yards.
"Caleb stepped up for us tonight," Sphire said. "Sometimes you need that one guy to step up for you to pull out a win and that's what he did."
For Peachtree Ridge, Burton finished the game with 97 yards on the ground, while Ellis had 83.