Peachtree Ridge quarterback Bryson Sellers (12) runs for yardage in Friday's game against Duluth as teammate Blake Best (54) blocks for him.
DULUTH -- For more than three quarters, Peachtree Ridge dominated Duluth on both sides of the ball. Then, things got crazy in the last minute as the Wildcats made a game of it, ultimately losing 28-21.
After having scored its second touchdown within the span of 31 seconds in the last minute of the fourth, Duluth (1-2 overall, 0-1 region) went for its second onside kicks and thought it had gotten the recovery. However, the officials declared a Duluth player touched the ball first and the recovery didn't count, allowing the Lions to escape with the win.
"The official told me our guy touched it first," said Duluth head coach Corey Jarvis. "But, I didn't see that. All I saw was our guy and their guy going after the ball, with our guy recovering it."
That disappointment left a sour taste in the mouth of the Wildcats as they were trying to beat the Lions for the first time in school history.
Peachtree Ridge (1-2, 1-0) was able to jump on Duluth early as quarterback Bryson Sellers got a much-needed confidence boost. Despite his critics after two sub-par performances in the first two games of the season, Sellers was able to manage the game throughout. He finished with 70 yards passing and 44 yards rushing.
"I'm elated for Bryson," said Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood. "He needed that."
The Lions scored first late in first quarter as Walden Davis found the end zone from 10 yards out on a pass from Sellers to put the Lions up 7-0. Then, Sellers led the team on a 13-play 80-yard drive, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Joe Horn.
"That touchdown pass before the half was big for him," Fleetwood said. "It showed him he could be the leader of this team."
Peachtree Ridge again forced the issue in the third quarter, using Jordan Ellis (103 yards rushing) as the workhorse on three of the five plays on the drive, culminating in a two-yard score to put the Lions up 21-0 with 5:46 to go in the third quarter.
The Lions scored one more time in the quarter as Davis found the end zone once again to make the score 28-0.
"Our offensive line did great all night," Fleetwood said. "They blocked well and gave our guys holes to run in."
As the Wildcats entered the fourth, all hope looked lost until backup quarterback Tyler Campbell found a hole in the defense and rushed 61 yards to the end zone. The extra point was missed to leave the score at 28-6.
After the Lions were forced to punt on their next drive, the Wildcats took over the ball on their own 10-yard line and got to work. With the aid of two personal-foul penalties, the Wildcats got a 25-yard touchdown pass from No. 3 quarterback Thaddeus Bell to Gregory Blackshear. The pair connected on the two-point conversion to make the score 28-14 with 51 seconds to go.
Duluth then recovered the onsides kicks and took three plays as Bell again found Blackshear for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds to go. That touchdown set up the final onside kick, which created the controversy at the end of the game.
"We wanted to get our young guys in the game," Fleetwood said. "I'm glad they found a way to win."
Bell finished the game with 95 yards passing on the final two drives for the Wildcats.
"A lot of our guys are hurt after this one," Jarvis said. "Sometimes in life, things go wrong and you still have to fight for your dreams."