The battered and bruised Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets had to drag themselves across the finish line in their opening Class AAAAA playoff race.
The Yellow Jackets (9-2) slipped past the Creekside Seminoles 27-24 on Friday in a hard-hitting double-overtime playoff affair at Thomas County Stadium.
The Seminoles (7-4) settled for a 31-yard field goal that gave them a 24-21 lead in the second extra session. Larwrence Curtis, who scored in the first overtime, was stuffed on three straight runs to set up the kick and a chance for Central to win.
After a couple of plays, Adam Choice skirted around the right end and dove across the goal line to send the Yellow Jackets into a victorious frenzy that was tinged with a sense of relief.
The Yellow Jackets survived crucial fumbles, including two in the final minutes, to eke out the win and advance to a second-round date with Northside-Warner Robins.
“That was huge heart,” Yellow Jackets head coach Bill Shaver said. “The defense played lights out all night long. They had a couple of fluky long passes and quarterback scrambles down there, but our defense held up and played great.”
Creekside’s defense was stout, too. With Central getting close to possibly putting the game away midway through the fourth quarter, Julian Gibbs scooped up a fumble and rambled 88 yards for a tying touchdown. Deondre Cooksey lost the ball after turning the same ankle he injured several weeks ago.
Gibbs was about 20 yards downfield before most of the Yellow Jackets knew he had come up with the loose ball. Choice tried to stop Gibbs, but he managed to elude him.
“That turnover was a killer because we were driving to score and take a two-touchdown lead,” Shaver said. “I thought (Cooksey) was down, but they threw the bean bag.”
For full details, see Saturday's edition of the Times-Enterprise.
Creekside 7 0 0 7 7 3 — 24
Central 7 7 0 0 7 6 — 27
C — Larwrence Curtis 2 run (No. 86 kick)
TCC — Adam Choice 81 run (Gavin Wilson kick)
TCC — Shaquille Coleman 18 run (Wilson kick)
C — Julian Gibbs 88 fumble return (No. 86 kick)
TCC — Choice 8 run (Wilson kick)
C — Curtis 9 run (No. 86 kick)
C — No. 86 FG
TCC — Choice 6 run
First downs 13 13
Rush-yards 32-114 48-272
Passing 107 40
Comp-Att-Int 11-22-0 4-9-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-3
Penalties 8-70 6-40
RUSHING — Creekside, Evan Berry 15-57, Curtis 13-41, DJ Knox Joshua Moon `-1, Elliott Berry 2-5, Deantre Turman 1-9. Central, Deondre Cooksey 13-41, Coleman 7-48, Tim Brown 4-14, Choice 24-168.
PASSING — Creekside, Berry 10-21-0 100, Cliff Moultin 1-1-0 7. Central, Choice 4-9-0 40
RECEIVING — Creekside, Chris Sanders-McCollum 3-57, Turman 2-8, Darvin Williams 4-44, Moon 1-5, Cameron Jackson 1-(-7). Central, Cooksey 2-9, Malcolm McClenton 1-11, Hunter Hinson 1-20.