Friday night at Cantrell Stadium in Powder Springs was a night that won't soon be forgotten by anyone in attendance. Before the game featuring No. 2 Lowndes and No. 7 McEachern, the Indians football program retired the late Rajaan Bennett's No. 5 jersey in a touching ceremony. Bennett's mother and extended family accepted the framed jersey at midfield and a memorial was dedicated outside of the fieldhouse.
After the ceremony was over, it was time for football. McEachern took the opening kickoff and, in just a few plays, got on the board 7-0 thanks to Chris Nwagbara's 60-yard touchdown run. The McEachern defense showed early and Lowndes was left wondering how it could crack McEachern's force of a defense.
A few drives later, the Indians made a mistake as a low snap on a punt caused the punter to take a knee while scoping up the ball. Lowndes took over on the eight-yard line and four plays later, Troy Braswell scored his fifth TD of the season. Lowndes wasn't done in the second quarter as QB Cole Parker found junior Josh Clemons for a 20-yard TD connection. B
Late in the half, Lowndes seemed poised to score at least a field goal when a fullback fumbled the ball, giving McEachern the ball near midfield with three timeouts and two minutes to work with. Junior QB Trent Thompson drove his team down the field along with Score 44 member Rory Anderson before Nicholas St. Germain connected on a 34-yard FG as time expired, making it 14-10 at the half.
In the second half, Lowndes was awarded a safety on another botched snap into the end zone, but the Vikings would do nothing with the field position after the free kick. McEachern, now with Dondre Purnell then found Victor Brannon for a 58-yard TD pass to give the Indians a 17-16 lead. After a missed Lowndes field goal attempt, McEachern seemed ready to try and run the clock out, but the Vikings defense stiffened.
The Vikings regained the ball and methodically moved the ball down the field, scoring with just under three minutes to go to take a 22-17 lead after a failed 2-point conversion.
Then the magic returned for No. 7 McEachern. Purnell was sacked on first down but Zarold Wilder made a 10-yard run happen on second down and Purnell went deep to Chris Davis on third down, connecting for 35 yards. After a few more completions, McEachern had a first down thanks to the legs of Purnell on the 7-yard line with under 11 seconds to play. After an incompletion, Purnell scampered to the near pylon for the game-winning score, breaking the plane as two Vikings defenders met him at the goalline, but the Indians would have the lead and three seconds later the game.
McEachern celebrated on the field after the 23-22 upset and the hands on everyone on the field raised five fingers to honor the memory of Rajaan Bennett.