St. Pius 27, Mundy’s Mill 21 2OT

St. Pius’ Shug Bentley  scores a touchdown during a GHSA High School football game between St. Pius and Mundy’s Mill at St. Pius Catholic School in Atlanta, GA, on Friday, November 11, 2022.(Photo/Jenn Finch)

St. Pius’ Shug Bentley scores a touchdown during a GHSA High School football game between St. Pius and Mundy’s Mill at St. Pius Catholic School in Atlanta, GA, on Friday, November 11, 2022.(Photo/Jenn Finch)

Just when St. Pius appeared ready to put its first-round playoff game away, it didn’t. And just when the Golden Lions looked to be on the verge of losing, they didn’t. The result was a crazy finish that saw St. Pius prevail 27-21 over Mundy’s Mill in double-overtime at George Maloof Stadium in Decatur.

“I’m proud of the resilience our kids showed,” St. Pius coach Chad Garrision said. “They continued to battle, even when things turned against us they continued to battle.”

St. Pius (6-5) advances to play Thomas County Central in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. Mundy’s Mill finished 7-4.

The fun started early in the fourth quarter after St. Pius had taken a 14-0 lead. After forcing Mundy’s Mill to go three-and-out, the Golden Lions had the momentum on their favor. But the punt accidentally bounced off a St. Pius player and Jeremiah Roux recovered for the Tigers. Five players later big Tyler White powered in from the 2.

Mundy’s Mill tied the game with 1:37 left by driving 85 yards in seven plays and scoring when backup quarterback Jaylen Carolina threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ke’andre Haines to tie the game at 14-14.

St. Pius was able to get in position for a game-winning field goal, but the snap was high and the kick was doomed.

After the two teams both scored in the first overtime, St. Pius went ahead 27-21, but Jack Galvez missed the extra point, leaving Mundy’s Mill in position to win. It looked inevitable until a snap to Carolina was high and plucked out of midair by sophomore Carter Kandilakis, who raced downfield with the ball held high.

The St. Pius players rushed on the field and celebrated, while the stunned Mundy’s Mill players didn’t know how to react.

“Liam Whitlark really hyped me up before the play,” Kandilakis said. “I saw that the play was going to me and I knew I had to go for it. When the ball was high, it was in my hands and I was going for a touchdown.”

Munday’s Mill coach Earthwind Moreland said, “It meant a lot to them and they’re a little hurt right now, which they should be. But I’m extremely proud of them in the way they continued to fight, even after being down 14-0. It’s unfortunate that we lose a tough game on a botched snap. I felt if we could just keep the ball we’d win that game.

Neither team was able to score in the first half, although both had chances.

Mundy’s Mill Chris Joseph intercepted a pass to set the Tigers up at the 43 and they drove to the 22, where they opted to try a 36-yard field goal. St. Pius sophomore Hudson Taylor broke through and blocked the Alex Nunez kick and gave the Golden Lions the ball at the 36.

After an exchange of punts, St. Pius went on a 15-play drive that ate nearly nine minutes off the clock. The Golden Lions, beset by a holding penalty and a sack settled for a 49-yard field from Jack Galvez that was just wide left.

St. Pius scored on its first possession of the third quarter on a 10-play scoring drive that was completed on a 22-yard run by Jack Tchienchou.

The Panthers took a 14-0 lead when Shug Bentley intercepted a pass and returned it to the 23. Three plays later Bentley ran right and cut back for a 22-yard touchdown run.

“My emotions are all over the place,” Bentley said. “We get the interception, and we score, then they score back-to-back touchdowns. It was all over the place, but I absolutely loved it. It was a great atmosphere.”

St. Pius ran for 266 yards, with Tchienchou (84), Whitlark (54) and quarterback Jack Mount (53) leading the way.

Mundy’s Mill got 88 yards rushing from Trashaun Burnett and 75 yards passing from Carolina. Haines caught four passes for 68 yards and one touchdown.

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