Photo: Craig Cappy Parkview's Brandon Sullivan (22) gains yardage before being tackled by Central Gwinnett's Trey Johnson (32) and Deshawn Oliver (43) during Friday's game.
HIGHLIGHTS: Central Gwinnett vs. Parkview
Highlights from the Central Gwinnett vs. Parkview football game in which the Black Knights defeated the Panthers in triple OT.
LAWRENCEVILLE --The victory bell, secured in its tower at the corner of the football field, rang Friday night at Central Gwinnett.
"It's the first time they've rung it since I've been here," third-year Central head coach Todd Wofford said. "They used to ring it after every big win. And this was a big one."
It sure was.
The Black Knights got a pair of big special teams plays in the extra sessions, a block by Israel Washington and a 35-yard, game-winning field goal by Samir Ramic in the third overtime, for a shocking 30-27 upset of Parkview, the Region 8-AAAAAA leader and the seventh-ranked team in Class AAAAAA. The Panthers' first region loss creates a four-way tie for first place in the region.
Central isn't one of those four, but it had plenty to celebrate, mainly its first victory over Parkview since 2006 and just the second over the Panthers since 1995. It was a pretty special homecoming game for the Black Knights.
"These guys right here grew up tonight," Wofford said. "These three years have been a lot of learning experiences and this shows how far we've come. We would have quit in a game like this in the past. The defense stepped up major. It's one of the biggest wins Central's had in a long time."
Central had a shot at the upset in regulation, leading 17-7 early in the fourth quarter, but two disastrous interceptions by Kyle Williams and Justis Rosser allowed Parkview to take a 24-17 lead with 4:58 remaining.
The turnovers were the only way the Panthers, who were without injured star running back Chris Carson (1,037 yards), could muster any points. The visitors had just 33 yards and three first downs, one via penalty, in the second half and three overtimes.
"We needed a win like this, beating the No. 1 team in our region," Central senior linebacker J.B. Ezzell said. "We just kept our heads up and laid it all on the line."
Central then forced overtime with a four-play, 53-yard scoring drive capped by a 17-yard TD pass from Eman Westmoreland to Adam Riley with 1:02 left in regulation. Westmoreland completed 33 of 48 passes for 379 yards and TDs to Riley, Zedekiah Brown and Johnathan Hawkins. Justin Brownlee also had nine catches for 106 yards.
After the teams traded field goals in the first overtime, Central had a disastrous possession of sacks and penalties that created a fourth-and-42 at the 47-yard line. The Black Knights (4-4, 2-4) could do nothing but heave a long incompletion and leave the first half of the second OT scoreless.
Parkview (6-2, 5-1) tried to end it on first down from the 15, bringing in Tyler Stephenson for a 32-yard field goal try. But Washington stormed through the line and stuffed the field goal, saving the hosts' chances for a win.
"It's something you can't practice," Washington said. "Coach asked if I wanted to be a moth and go to the light or be a cockroach and go hide. I decided I wanted to be a moth. ... This gives us a legacy. Our season didn't go like we planned, but to win over a top-10 team in the state is really big."
In the third overtime, Central's defense forced Parkview backward with its own flurry of sacks and a costly Panther unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Parkview was sacked again on fourth-and-30 from the 35, leaving the period scoreless.
That allowed Central to play it safe and set up Ramic, who snuck a 35-yard, game-winning field goal just inside the right upright. Ramic also converted a 36-yarder in the third quarter, helping build the 17-7 lead.
The Black Knights now have a chance at their first winning record since 2006.
"We grew up tonight because we finally beat somebody," Wofford said. "Nothing against the other teams we've beat (the past three seasons), but we finally beat a great team, a team that's No. 1 in our region. To see them fight like that for three overtimes, I'm so happy to be their coach right now."