North Gwinnett was looking for revenge. After suffering a disappointing loss to Colquitt County in the second round of last year’s Class AAAAA playoffs, both teams faced each other again in the third game of the Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
And when the smoke cleared it was the North Gwinnett who came out on top with a 16-14 win over the Packers.
It was a thrilling ending to a very tight game as kicker Michael D’ Angola nailed a 33-yard field goal as time expired. That kick was set up thanks in large part to quarterback Michael Hayes who completed first down passes to Nate and Almonzo Brown as well as running for 20-yard gain to set up the score.
The defense for the Bulldogs came up big as they were able to force the Packers to go three-and-out deep in the own territory on the series prior to the game winning drive.
The Packers started the fourth quarter with a bang as Deonte McCain scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. The score was set up by a 51-yard pass from Cole Segraves to Bobby Hill.
Colquitt needed that score because the Bulldogs took the lead at the end of the third quarter when Donnie Miles scored on a 77-yard touchdown run. That would be the only offensive touchdown the Bulldogs would score all afternoon.
Both Colquitt and North Gwinnett are known for having high-powered offenses. That was not the case for both teams in the first half.
Both teams struggled to sustain drives and it started on the first play of the game when Segraves threw an interception to North Gwinnett safety Jalen Brooks.
The Bulldogs looked to capitalize on the turnover, but could not convert a 4th-and-2 play. Bulldogs Hayes threw a short pass to WR Michael Pucciarello but was stopped in his tracks by DB Jamal Phillips.
After a Colquitt drive stalled at midfield, the Packers punted to Caleb Scott. But Scott fumbled the return which was recovered by John Gray. Because of false start penalties and a sack, the Packers could not punch it in the end zone. But kicker Roberto Vega nailed a 41-yarder to give the Packers the 3-0 lead.
The Packers got the ball back later in the quarter after the Bulldogs go three-and-out on the ensuing drive. After two more false start penalties, running back Deonte McCain fumbles which was forced by Preston Green and recovered by Andrew Westbrook for a 35-yard touchdown.
The only other score in the first half would be when Packers O’Shay Williams sacked QB Hayden Sphire in the end zone to give the Packers the safety and cut the Bulldogs'lead to two.
The Packers (0-1) had a number of penalties in the game including numerous false start penalties which set the offense back.
The Bulldogs (1-0) also struggled on offense but made big plays when they needed to.
Colquitt will head to Thomasville to face Thomas County Central next Friday at 8 p.m. North Gwinnett will take part in the National High School Gridiron Challenge at home on next Saturday and will face AC Flora, which has been one of the best teams in South Carolina the last two years.