The sixth-ranked Southeast Guilford Falcons fell to the 14th-ranked Gray’s Creek Bears in a game that was decided in the final seconds. The Bears recovered an onside-kick and drove downfield to score the winning touchdown with 48.7 seconds remaining to make the score 39-35. They then held the Falcons from scoring to win the game.
Southeast looked to be in control early as they scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, a rushing touchdown by Jalen Fairley and a reception by Adam Douglas to put the team up 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Gray’s Creek standout running back, Jerry Garcia, Jr., scored four touchdowns on the night for the Bears, including two on back to back drives to put the Bears back in the game in the second quarter. The Falcons took advantage of good field position at the end of the second quarter and scored before halftime to take a 20-14 lead.
Jalen Fairley scored a touchdown to strengthen the Falcons lead midway through the third quarter, but it was answered by Gray’s Creek when Garcia Jr. broke free from 39yds to make the score 28-21 in favor of the Falcons.
The Falcons scored first in the fourth quarter but then gave up three unanswered touchdowns to give up the lead. With 7:35 remaining in the game, Southeast’s Derron McQuitty scored to extend the lead to 35-21. No one expected what would happen next.
Although Garcia Jr had scored all of the Bears touchdowns on the evening, and had the most rushing yards on the team, Gaven Freeman was no slouch, scoring twice in the fourth quarter to put the Bears within reach of defeating the Falcons.
The Bears had to execute an onside-kick with 1:21 remaining in the game to regain possession and have a chance to win. The kick was recovered by the Bears, and they used the running duo of Garcia Jr and Freeman to get them to the end zone. Garcia Jr. scored the go-ahead touchdown with 48.7 seconds remaining in regulation.
Southeast was unable to mount a drive after getting the ball at their own 35. The effort ended when Falcons quarterback Zion Fleming was picked off by Dalton Patrick, and the final seconds were run out with the Bears in victory formation.
The Falcons were unable to maintain their ability to answer and hold when under pressure. This was most obvious when they bobbled the onside-kick, which, if recovered, would have sealed the victory for Southeast.
Gray’s Creek was battle-proven after winning in overtime last Friday night against Southern Durham. They proved that the victory last week wasn’t a fluke, and when their backs are up against the wall, they are able to execute.
Head coach Kennedy Tinsley talked about how he feels that his team learned a valuable life lesson from this loss.
“I told them that when things don’t go your way and you fail, you have to go back and look at the effort that you gave,” Tinsley said. “I’m really proud of the effort that our guys gave tonight. At the end of the day, that’s what high school football is all about.”
Tinsley said that it was difficult for not only the players, but everyone involved with the program for the season to end the way it did.
“They make a commitment early in the year,” he said. “When it comes down to the end of the year and to lose the way we did tonight, it’s tough.”
(SE) Jalen Fairley 1 run (kick failed)
(SE) Adam Douglas 44 pass from Zion Fleming (kick failed)
(GC) Jerry Garcia, Jr. 74 run (James Haggins kick)
(GC) Garcia, Jr. 32 run (Haggins kick)
(SE) Aaron Lucas 19 pass from Fleming (Fleming pass)
(SE) Fairley 10 run (Alex McCalop run)
(GC) Garcia, Jr. 39 pass from Ben Lovette (Haggins kick)
(SE) Derron McQuitty 5 run (Aidan Bonde kick)
(GC) Gaven Freeman 35 run (kick failed)
(GC) Freeman 1 run (kick failed)
(GC) Garcia, Jr. 4 run (run failed)