With all the hype that surrounds the matchup between Tate and Niceville, both matches last season were lopsided wins for Niceville.
That was not the case Friday night.
The Eagles and the Aggies went back and forth and collided for one of the wildest fourth quarters of the season before Niceville came out on top 35-32.
While the Aggies had their opportunities to cash in on a lead or a tie, the Eagles seemed to execute when it mattered most.
With just more than a minute left in regulation, the Aggies trailed by three points as they lined up for a 32-yard field goal.
Tate seemed to execute a perfect snap, hold and kick as Evan Legassey sent it through the uprights.
However, a flag lingered on the field following the kick and an illegal procedure penalty set Tate back.
The Aggies attempted another FG, but this one was blocked by Niceville, and the Eagles recovered the ball on their own 18 and proceeded to kneel out the clock.
“Some crazy things happened, but we had our chances to win the game or at least tie it,” Tate coach Jay Lindsey said. “We came back. We faced adversity but we kept fighting. We’re fine, that’s a great program (Niceville). We made some adjustments, they got some big time players there … they are gonna make some big-time plays.”
Niceville got on the board with their second drive when Auburn-commit Eli Stove hauled in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Jeffery Toney.
Stove also snagged a 74-yard TD reception in the fourth to give Niceville a 27-19 lead with 7:54 to play.
“Passing was key tonight,” Stove said. “Deonte (Sheffield) had some big runs for us … we got down the field pretty fast sometimes.”
Niceville extended its lead to 35-25 with 5:38 left in regulation, but Tate still had more in the tank.
The Aggies capped off an explosive three-play drive with a 20-yard rushing touchdown from Dee Thompson.
The Aggies then blocked Niceville’s punt on the ensuing possession to set up the FG attempt.
“We had a few mistakes here and there that just killed it,” Lindsey said. “We touch those things up and we probably win the ball game.”
— #BeatBrian (@BrianAchatzPNJ) September 26, 2015