He added another one Friday, and this one couldn’t have been bigger.
Sumner caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Stephon Masha with 1:24 seconds left in the game, and Brandon Watson intercepted Aaron Hughes’ pass on the Knights’ subsequent drive to seal a 32-28 victory at Memorial Stadium.
“It wasn’t really one of our plays that was designed,” Sumner said. “(South Cobb coach Ed Koester) just threw some routes together, and I was open. It feels great. South Cobb hasn’t won a playoff game ever in history, since it was built. I feel so good in taking part in this.”
It was the first state playoff win South Cobb, which has a history that stretches back to the 1950s. In fact, the program had not won any sort of postseason game since a region playoff in 1959.
South Cobb (8-3), the No. 3 seed from Region 4AAAAA, advanced to take on Region 5AAAAA champion Walton (11-0), which defeated Milton 48-14 in its first round playoff game.
The Eagles, who committed five first-half turnovers and totaled six in Friday’s game, rallied from a 28-13 fourth-quarter deficit to post the come-from-behind win.
“Perseverance,” Koester said simply when asked of the key to his team’s win. “Our kids persevere. Everything about what they do, they persevere. I just love them. I got in this business to make a difference, and on the sidelines is where I make my biggest difference and greatest contributions to society. These kids touch my heart.”
Already down 21-13 entering the second half, South Cobb fell further when Windsor Forest (6-4-1), the No. 2 seed from Region 3AAAAA, opened the third quarter with a seven-play, 87-yard drive.
Esai Morrison capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to extend the Knights’ margin to 28-13 with 8:34 left in the quarter. The possession included a 64-yard completion from Hughes to Trawick Tramayne, and a 16-yard pass from Hughes to Bryant Zach to set up the score.
South Cobb turned the ball over on a fumble — one of its seven, of which five were lost — on its next possession, but the Eagles’ defense responded to give South Cobb the ball at its own 17.
Masha directed an 11-play, 83-yard touchdown drive, which included a 30-yard completion to Carlos Anderson, to set up a 10-yard scoring catch for Gary Jones. It left the Eagles trailing 28-19 after a failed 2-point conversion.
Dreon Knowlin recovered a Windsor Forest fumble on the kickoff — one of five Knights’ turnovers — and, two plays later, Chris Beck scored from 16 yards out to trim the deficit to 28-26 with 54.6 seconds remaining in the third period.
Beck rushed 27 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns on the night.
Jeremiah Alphabet intercepted Hughes to give South Cobb the ball back, but a missed 22-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter still left the Eagles trailing by two.
Windsor Forest drove to the South Cobb 35 on its next possession, but had to punt. South Cobb then turned the ball over on downs on its next drive, but its defense held the Knights to a three-and-out, and the Eagles got the ball back with 2:12 left in the game.
“Coach (Alan) Gordon and coach (Alan) Trout have just done a marvelous job over there all year,” said Koester of his defensive coaches. “We do bend, but luckily we don’t break at the wrong time. I’m just excited for the defense. They kept giving us the ball, and a couple of times we didn’t do anything with it. But they kept giving us the ball, and I’m just grateful.”
Masha, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, engineered the five-play, 72-yard game-winning drive in less than a minute. He found Sumner for 8 yards and Jones — who had nine receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown — for 11 before connecting with Sumner for the score.
Beck also had an 18-yard run during the drive.
The teams combined for five first-quarter turnovers, with South Cobb committing three on a pair fumbles and a Masha interception and Windsor Forest giving up two fumbles.
The Eagles’ second fumble led to a 2-yard scoring run for Hughes, who rushed 22 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns, to give the Knights an early 7-0 lead with 7:45 left in the first quarter. Hughes also went 8-of-24 in the air for 140 yards and two interceptions.
Justin Jones recovered a fumble off a Masha interception to set up Beck’s 18-yard touchdown run, which left the Eagles’ trailing 7-6 after the missed point-after attempt.
Ophree Moumback was unable to get the punt off on South Cobb’s second possession of the second quarter, which led to a two-play, 32-yard scoring drive for the Knights off a 25-yard touchdown run from Hughes.
A 49-yard fumble return for John Trotta gave Windsor Forest a 21-6 with 4:23 remaining until halftime.
Chauncey Ingram’s 55-yard kickoff return set up Beck’s 1-yard touchdown as the Eagles’ trailed 21-13 with 2:29 remaining until halftime.
“It cost us over $10,000 to get everyone down here and feed them and everything else,” Koester said. “To go home with a win makes that worth while.
“But, if anybody wants to make a donation, we’d appreciate it.”