Let the record show that the 2016 Georgia AAAAAAA state champion was crowned on a Sunday … after a game started on a Saturday. It was that kind of a game.
It started with an epic staredown and ended with a dramatic late touchdown. And when the smoke cleared after the final Georgia high school state title game in the Georgia Dome, it was Grayson that emerged from a wild late seesaw of scoring plays with a 23-20 overtime victory.
No. 10 Grayson used a late touchdown drive and two-point conversion to build a 20-13 lead, only to watch No. 8 Roswell tie the game on the final play of regulation in the Georgia AAAAAAA state title game, forcing overtime.
There, the Rams (14-1) came through on a field goal attempt while the Hornets (14-1) did not, ending an epic battle between two squads that justified how highly they were ranked in the USA TODAY Super 25 with a fierce battle.
Despite two high-powered offenses, both the Grayson and Roswell defenses forced mistakes, particularly early, putting a premium on execution. And it was Grayson who came through when it mattered most, with quarterback Chase Brice connecting with Jaquavius Lane for a touchdown with just more than a minute remaining, then linking up again for a two-point conversion to push the lead to a full seven points.
From there the game seemed over, but Roswell had one last trick up its sleeve. Roswell moved quickly — aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Lane — to get the ball to the Grayson 20-yard-line with enough time for one final play. That’s when Corey Reed came through with his catch of the season, pulling in an impressive grab in the end zone with no time on the clock to send the game to overtime, after the subsequent extra point sailed through.
In the extra period, Roswell held Grayson to a field goal by Will Van Pamelen on the Rams’ first extra possession, setting up a chance for Roswell to tie with a field goal. After three stops, the Hornets trotted out to attempt a field goals … and watched their state title dreams sail wide right. If anyone could commiserate with Rosewell placekicker Turner Barckhoff, it was his counterpart at Grayson, who missed both of his first two extra point attempts, leading to the need for Grayson’s two-point attempt to get that critical 20-13 late lead.
Reed, a senior Louisville commit, had an impressive day, but it was Brice, a senior Clemson quarterback commit, who truly turned heads. He and Lane connected for all three of Grayson’s touchdowns in regulation, including two impressive scores in the final period, one of which looked like it would be the winner before Roswell’s last-ditch heroics.
Lane had Lane had four catches for 115 yards. Brice finished with 238 yards on 18 for 27 passing.
Willis threw for 261 yards on 19 of 30.
Grayson, which began the season in the Super 25 top 5 in the preseason, lost its opener to IMG Academy and then ran the table, winning 14 consecutive games. Grayson coach Jeff Herron won his fifth state title overall in his first season in Loganville after previous stops over 26 years.