After Nathan Shaw put the seventh-ranked Buccaneers ahead 20-17 with a 26-yard field goal in the first overtime period, Hiram lined up for their own 26-yard field goal attempt.
That’s when Hiram backup quarterback Jacob Lester took the snap and pulled up, rolling out to his left. Lester lofted a pass to the end zone, but the ball floated just a few inches past the outstretched fingertips of Julian Dickens, sealings Allatoona’s 20-17 win.
Allatoona escaped to improve to 8-0 on the season, while Hiram fell to 3-5. The victory means the Buccaneers will play for the Region 5AAAAAA championship when they face East Paulding in two weeks.
Allatoona coach Gary Varner said the ending definitely surprised him.
“I wasn’t sure whether that was a bad snap or if they meant to go for the touchdown,” Varner said. “They had nothing to lose, though. That wasn’t a pretty game, but our kids fought hard. Now we just have to focus on our next game – North Paulding. We’re not good enough to overlook anyone.”
Disappointed Hiram coach Andy Dorsey said the game’s final play was something that his team had planned for Allatoona.
“Since Allatoona blocked our last field goal, we wanted to go for the win,” Dorsey explained. “We had practiced that fake all week and it had gone well. If it had worked, I’d be soaked in Gatorade right now, but it didn’t, so I take responsibility for it.”
The Buccaneers escaped much more than the final overtime play. Hiram drove into Allatoona territory in the closing seconds of regulation. Kicker Trevor Wylie missed a 55-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the game, but Allatoona was called for a roughing penalty.
Wylie’s attempt from 50 yards was then blocked by several Buccaneers to send the game to overtime.
Allatoona scored the game’s first touchdown late in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by quarterback Jeremy Uzee for a 7-0 lead. Shaw then added a 20-yard field goal with 5:27 left until halftime for a 10-0 Allatoona advantage.
The Hornets grabbed the momentum heading into halftime with 10 points in less than a minute. Roderick Harrison connected with Dickens on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds left in the first half.
Thirty seconds later, Wylie kicked a 50-yard field goal on a free kick after the Hornets caught a punt at the Allatoona 40-yard-line.