North Hall was willing to let Lumpkin County have a free touchdown late in Friday's game at The Brickyard, which the Indians were not about to turn away.
Trailing 27-26 with only about three minutes on the game clock, Trojans coach Bob Christmas made the tactical decision to let Lumpkin County score on a 16-yard run from Michael Flanagan to make the score 34-26.
Christmas said the decision was made as a result of the way the Indians were driving steadily down the field and slowly running the clock down.
"It gave us a chance to get the ball back and put together a drive and try to score," Christmas said. "We made some great plays, just came up short."
He felt the Trojans' best chance to win was to get the ball back on offense and throw at junior wide receiver C.J. Curry, who already had seven catches for 62 yards.
However, Lumpkin County (5-2, 2-1 Region 8A-AAA) was able to hold on the ensuing drive and preserve the program's first win over North Hall (3-4, 1-2) since 1982.
"It was an extremely hard fought game and I'm very proud of the way our team played," Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones said. "This was another big game for our team against a very good North Hall team."
With the win, Lumpkin County has another huge subregion game against Stephens County (5-2, 2-1) next Friday.
With the loss, North Hall now is a longshot to make the playoffs and will help from the teams ahead of it in the standings to get a crack at a region play-in game the final week of the regular season.
Trailing by eight with 2:52 left to play, North Hall got downfield in a hurry with a 16-yard pass to Randy Olson, 5-yard pass to Darius Curry and additional 15 yards added onto the end for a penalty. Then on third-and-13, North Hall quarterback Kanler Coker got the ball into C.J. Curry's hands for a 22-yard gain.
With the ball at around the Lumpkin County 30, Indians defensive back Ian McIntosh felt he was about to make a big play. His inclination was right. Coker dropped back to pass and tried to hit C.J. Curry in the end zone, but McIntosh had the inside position and came away with the interception.
"After we scored, they thought they could hit us with the big play," McIntosh said. "I knew I was going to have to step up and make a play.
"The feeling I have winning this game is indescribable."
However, it wasn't just one play that gave Lumpkin the edge. The Indians were moving the ball steadily with the inside running of quarterback Taylor Guthrie and Michael Flanagan, then would switch it up by letting McIntosh get to the edge running the ball.
"We ran the ball effectively," Jones said. "Michael ran the ball extremely hard all night."
Lumpkin County didn't try to strike quick on offense either. Behind the senior fullback, Flanagan (20 carries, 131 yards) the Indians would use eight or nine plays on each drive, then let him punch it in from short.
Flanagan scored his first touchdown on a run from the 12, which capped a nine-play and 63 yard drive midway through the opening quarter.
Then just five minutes later, Flanagan, who rushed for four touchdowns, capped another drive with a touchdown run from the 1. During the drive, Lumpkin wide receiver Dillon Self had a catch on a tip to himself following a flea-flicker pass from senior quarterback Taylor Guthrie.
In the second quarter, Flanagan scored on a run from the 2, capping another nine-play drive that took five minutes off the clock. He set up the touchdown run when he converted on a third-and-2 with a 10-yard run right up the middle.
Lumpkin finished the game with 218 rushing yards, including a 15-yard run from Guthrie in the third quarter.
"This was another big win for our team," Flanagan said. "We just have to continue to stay humble and be ready for the next big game."
Despite North Hall's defensive lapses, it had a chance to come back from as much as a 21-6 deficit in the second quarter.
Trailing 21-12, North Hall recovered a Lumpkin fumble and scored eight plays later on an Imani Cross run from the 4. Cross was on the receiving end of a 38-yard pass from Coker on the previous play to set up the touchdown.
The Trojans got as close as 27-26 after converting on a fourth-and-12 with a 15-yard completion from C.J. Curry, followed by a 15-yard touchdown catch by Jesse Strickland in the back of the end zone. After the touchdown, C.J. Curry was on the receiving end of the 2-point conversion play.
Cross finished the game with 80 yards of offense and 16 tackles from his spot at linebacker. Coker passed for 166 yards.
Lumpkin County plays host to Stephens County next Friday; North Hall visits Franklin County next Friday in Carnesville.