It would appear that Friday night’s Class 7A football state final between host North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.) and Colquitt County has many of the elements that make many a sports moment great – a shot at redemption and a chance to knock off a perennial state power, to name a couple.
Add in the singular dramatic moment. Yeah, that too.
In a wild week that included uproar over the locations of the state finals, Class 7A provided a befittingly wild finish. After missing an extra point earlier in the game, North Gwinnett kicker Cameron Clark got the chance to put that miscue deep in the past. And he came through – big time.
Clark hit a 38-yard field goal with no time left to clinch the first state title in program history, a 19-17 triumph.
As the Gwinnett Daily Post tells it, the kick helped rescued North Gwinnett (14-1) after Colquitt (11-4) had just scored on a Steven Krajewski to Josh Hadley 13-yard TD pass with 49 seconds left. Having been runners up in 2013 and 2007, North Gwinnett is now a state champion.
In the process, the Bulldogs kept Colquitt County from a third state title in four years.
“It’s going to be a lot to absorb,” North Gwinnett coach Bill Stewart told the Daily Post. “We just kept believing. God gave us a chance, and it’s just great that we got it.”
Atlanta’s 11 Alive has highlights from the epic state final.
Before the kick of a lifetime for Clark, though, there was an “uh-oh” moment. After a 1-yard TD plunge from senior running back Cameron Butler put the Bulldogs ahead 16-10 with 5:50 remaining, Clark lined up for the extra point. Following a 5-yard false start penalty, Clark pushed the extra point wide.
Colquitt took advantage on the Krajewski-to-Hadley TD connection, and Ryan Fitzgerald followed it up with the extra point that made it 17-16 with 0:49 to play.
Per the Daily Post, North still had all three time outs left, and quickly moved the ball into Colquitt territory led by quarterback John Urzua. When Urzua was sacked by Colquitt’s J.J. Peterson at the 46-yard line with 13 seconds left, the Bulldogs’ dreams seemed dashed. Somehow, though, Colquitt was twice (!!) flagged for illegal substitution.
When Urzua’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete as the clock ran out, another flag came out, penalizing the Packers 15 yards for pass interference.
With one untimed down, Clark lined up. Per the Daily Post, he had also missed a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter.
“Before the kick, my coaches and teammates were telling me I’ve done this in practice hundreds of times,” Clark told the Daily Post. “In practice, they give me the pressure I need to get used to that. My team just helped me get here.”
Does it get any better than that?