Photo: Karl L. Moore Collins Hill's Tyler Henderson (5) runs out of the tackle of Dacula's Josh Lovin (34) and Ethan Steed (20) during Friday night's game at Dacula.
DACULA -- It looked like a Dacula comeback for the ages. Until Mitchell Blanchard unexpectedly got a shot at redemption.
The Collins Hill kicker booted a 50-yard field goal with no time on the clock Friday night as the Eagles escaped with a crazy, 24-22 victory over the host Falcons.
Blanchard had missed field goals of 35 and 48 yards in the first half and had a 35-yarder partially blocked in the fourth quarter, but delivered in the most intense of situations to stun Dacula, which had gone ahead 22-21 with just 15 seconds remaining to cap a 22-point fourth quarter.
"I was kind of frustrated with myself on the first three (misses), I put those all on me," Blanchard said. "The offense stepped up and gave me the chance at the end. I was not expecting that (chance) at all, but my team needed me."
Just moments before Blanchard's kick, the stunned Eagles were staring at a shocking defeat.
Up 21-0 early in the fourth quarter, Collins Hill watched the lead disappear as a Dacula offense, which had slumbered scoreless through the season's first seven quarters, came to life.
Marcus Cox caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Goodson for the season's first score and Cox followed with a 5-yard scoring run with eight minutes left. The Falcons then marched 80 yards in 14 plays and scored on fourth-and-14 play with a 19-yard TD pass from Goodson to Josh Lovin with 15 seconds left.
With momentum on his side, Dacula head coach Jared Zito went for two. Cox looked to be stopped initially, but powered through a pack of Collins Hill defenders to put his team up 22-21.
With just a few seconds to work with, Collins Hill (1-1) moved just across midfield and was stopped on what appeared to be the game's final play. But Eagle quarterback Brett Sheehan, who completed 26 of 40 passes for 291 yards, was roughed on the play for a 15-yard penalty.
That moved Blanchard into range for a 50-yarder with no time on the clock, and the senior delivered.
"Mitchell beat Lowndes two years ago (in the state quarterfinals) with field goal and he's got poise," Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said. "I've got all the confidence in the world in him."
The kick completely shifted the emotions on the Dacula sideline, but there were still plenty of positives for the Falcons (0-2).
"I couldn't be more proud of them," Zito said of his team. "Winning and losing is the goal, but the end of the day it's about playing the game with passion and playing the game the right way. I wanted to see them fight, compete and be tough. Whether the guy makes the kick or not, they showed me and everyone there that they had all of those."
Collins Hill built a 21-0 lead with a score in each of the first three quarters, including two TD passes from Sheehan --a 30-yarder to Julian Williams in the first quarter and a 69-yarder to Justin Wyatt in the third quarter. Daniel Fish scored on a 5-yard run in the second quarter for the Eagles' other TD.
Wyatt finished with 10 catches for 131 yards and Williams had six catches for 77 yards. Tyler Henderson had 169 total yards with several long punt and kickoff returns.
The Eagles had a big first-half edge in yards (244-114), plays (42-23) and first downs (14-4), but Dacula fought back to make it interesting.
"Have you seen a crazier finish?" Reach said. "I haven't seen too many like that."