North Hall’s football program is building a pretty good reputation of winning football games when the other team needs a field goal in the final seconds. The Trojans beat Perry in the state quarterfinals two years ago and Hart County last year in the first round of the playoffs under the same scenario at The Brickyard.
That situation played out once against Friday when Flowery Branch’s kicker missed a potential game-tying field goal wide right with 28 seconds left and the Trojans held on to win 37-34.
"That Perry game sure did come to mind when they lined up for that field goal," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said.
"I was certainly thinking back to the Perry game," North Hall senior lineman Daniel Blitch said. "It brought back a lot of memories."
North Hall senior Peyton Wilhoite — who led the Trojans (4-2, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA) with 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 19 tackles on defense — said it was the greatest game his group had ever played.
The Trojans rallied from a 34-22 fourth quarter deficit with two rushing touchdowns to pull off the come-from-behind victory over the Falcons (5-2, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA).
The win means even more for North Hall’s seniors with the possibility of realignment after the season and the chance it will be the last time the schools meet for awhile.
"Since it’s the last time we might play those guys, it is great to go out with bragging rights," North Hall senior quarterback Nathan Jones said.
"We just came at it with everything we had tonight and had an amazing team effort," said Wilhoite, visibly emotional from the magnitude of the victory. "Not one single player won the game for us tonight; it took everybody."
North Hall orchestrated its comeback with its bread-and-butter running game. The Trojans finished the game with 47 rushes and all the team’s 395 yards of offense.
On the heels of a Flowery Branch touchdown and trailing 34-22, North Hall responded quickly with a 74-yard touchdown run from senior Robert Humphrey with 9:30 left to play.
Humphrey also had a big play on defense with a pass deflection on Flowery Branch’s next drive.
Trailing 34-29, North Hall regained position with 5:20 left to play. Wilhoite, who scored on touchdown runs of 56 and 8 yards, got the game-winning drive going fast for North Hall with runs of 25 and 13 yards and a gain of 6 on third-and-2.
Despite a 15-yard penalty later in the drive, Jones picked up 14 yards on first down when he missed the intended handoff but had the presence of mind to run behind the offensive line before breaking free for the big gain. On the next play, he picked up a big block on the corner from Blitch and scored the eventual game-winning touchdown from the 11.
With only 1:22 left to play, Flowery Branch drove downfield quickly behind the arm of senior quarterback Connor Shaw. He completed a pair of passes to Rodney Young and added a couple of short runs before the Falcons lined up for the field goal from the 25.
Shaw was 22 of 34 passing for 296 yards and four touchdown passes and rushed for one touchdown for Flowery Branch. He completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Young early in the fourth quarter to give the Falcons their biggest lead, 34-22.
Shaw also completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Young in the first quarter and a 41-yard touchdown throw to Robby Boudreau in the second quarter.
Young (73 yards receiving) and Boudreau (72) led the Flowery Branch receivers. Imani Cross carried 15 times for 79 yards.
Flowery Branch plays host to East Hall and North Hall visits Pickens next Friday.