In a game between two Class AAAAAAA giants, it was No. 4 Grayson that came up with the final big play of the night. And that proved to be the difference.
Logan Daniels and Jamal Haynes both got a piece of a 32-yard field goal in the first overtime to help the Rams break the hearts of No. 9 Archer, 34-31, and move a step closer to nailing down the Region 8 championship for the second straight year.
When the game finished in a 31-31 tie, Grayson had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Garwood Collins. Archer did nothing when its turn came and asked Jacob Waters to try the game, but Grayson came up with the block.
“Just had to win the game for my team,” Haynes said.
Grayson improved to 6-1, 2-0 in Region 8. Archer fell to 4-3, 1-1.
Archer appeared to have a big advantage when it scored with 2:12 left. Schamari Campbell got loose for a 22-yard touchdown run, giving Archer its first lead of the game at 31-24.
But the Tigers left too much time on the clock and Grayson quarterback C.J. Dixon calmly guided the Rams down the field. A 31-yard pass to Haynes got the ball rolling and a 19-yard pass to Jaden Smith pushed it to the 5. Two plays later Dixon found Darius Daniels in the end zone on a well-covered slant for the tying points.
“I had to do it,” Dixon said. “I had to make a play. The first half we didn’t do much, but we made up for it in the second half.
Dixon completed 20 of 45 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Daniels caught six passes for 63 yards and one touchdown. Jaden Smith caught six passes for 55 yards and Haynes had five receptions for 64 yards. LaFayette Gurvin ran 24 times for 117 yards and one touchdown, a bruising 44-yarder that saw him break numerous tackles before outracing the defense.
Archer got another solid game from quarterback Carter Peevy. The senior completed 15 of 23 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. But he was intercepted twice in the first half, the second one resulting in a pick-six from Easton Burgess. Peevy also ran for 81 yards, including a 43-yard bootleg that fooled everyone on the field and resulted in a touchdown.
Peevy was helped immensely by receiver Trey Messer, who caught nine passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Messer made some acrobatic grabs, once even catching the ball while on his back.
“We put our kids in some tough situations in practice each week to get them ready for this,” Grayson coach Adam Carter said. “But this wasn’t about the coaches. Give the kids credit. They fought to the end.”
The two area rivals – the schools are about seven miles apart – played before a near-capacity crowd at Archer Community Stadium that created a playoff atmosphere. Grayson improved to 8-2 in the series.
“This was big,” Haynes said. “We all know each other. We run into each other all the time. We really wanted to win this one.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.