North Hall outlasted Flowery Branch in a 21-20 final at The Branch on Friday in a game delayed an hour and 20 minutes by bad weather.
With 57 seconds left in the contest, everything hinged on what was a shaky kicking game for the Falcons (0-1). Flowery Branch had the ball on the Trojans’ 19-yard line, setting up a 36-yard field goal attempt.
The kick came out low and on a line, but just left of the goalpost and left North Hall sitting on top.
The Trojans (2-0) took over and set up the victory formation, with quarterback Jackson Madonna kneeling the ball three times to drain the clock and finalize the win.
Kyle Bacus rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries as North Hall ruined the Falcons’ season opener at home.
Both squads got off to a hot start. Flowery Branch took the ball at its own 20-yard line after the kickoff went into the end zone.
On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Nick Lance (16 of 28, 236 yards, one touchdown, 2 interceptions) found Jalin Strown (3 receptions, 91 yards, TD) for an 80-yard touchdown. The Falcons went for two and led 8-0.
The pace was set, but North Hall didn’t take long to respond. Quarterback Jackson Madonna was sacked on the first play, losing 5 yards and dropping at the 8-yard line.
On the next snap, Bacus made the most of his first carry as he sprinted through a big hole in the defense and ran away from everybody for a 92-yard score. With a missed PAT, the Trojans were down 8-6.
It took two more drives before another score was put up and it was a familiar name reaching the end zone.
Bacus took the first play of the drive for 18 yards, reaching the North Hall 48. The next snap, he was gone again, scampering for a 52-yard touchdown. Peyton Mavity scored on a handoff for the 2-point conversion to go up 14-8.
Then, the lightning came. The teams came back from the break to pouring rain, but the game played on.
After the break, Flowery Branch continued to try to throw the ball, but turned a little more to its running game. The Falcons threw the ball just one more time after the delay, a completion for 5 yards to Grant Lackey.
The game went to half at 14-8, but it didn’t take too long for Bacus to tack on his final score of the game.
The Trojans went on a seven-play, 35-yard drive after a big return from Daniel Jackson and a personal foul call on the Falcons. Bacus carried the ball on five of those seven plays, including the 1-yard dive to cap off the drive.
Malik Drayton (20 carries, 98 yards, 2 TD) scored the first of his two touchdowns with 2:33 left in the third. He sprinted for a 31-yard touchdown, pulling the game back to a one-score affair.
Drayton scored again on the next drive taking the snap in a wildcat formation for a 1-yard score. As with the previous touchdown, the PAT was no good.
The Falcons were able to contain the North Hall offense late, but it was the defensive stand the Trojans made at the end of the game to force the long field goal attempt that was the defining moment of the game.
Next, the Trojans will take the week off before hosting Pickens on Sept. 9.
Flowery Branch will travel to Chestatee this week to face off against the 1-1 War Eagles.