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Crisp Wildcats topple Highlanders
FPCA senior players and cheerleaders were honored Friday during the Crisp Academy game. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

The Crisp Academy Wildcats showed their true stripes Friday night, defeating the First Presbyterian Christian Academy Highlanders, 56-14, at Long Bell Stadium in Hinesville. The top-seeded team in Region 2-A of the Georgia Independent School Association pushed the ball downfield with ease, running up a 28-0 halftime lead.
The Highlanders made an attempt to get on the scoreboard just before the break, taking the ball to the Wildcats’ 10-yard line, but an interception killed the drive and the Wildcats took over on offense.  
On third down, Crisp launched a long pass that was picked off by Highlander George Mitchell. Highlander quarterback Domonique Kirkley broke free from defenders and the Highlanders soon were back within goal-line reach. However the clock ticked down to one second before the half, and in the last play before intermission, Kirkley was sacked for a big loss, killing the drive.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats kept placing points on the scoreboard and with a 35-0 lead, the Wildcats’ coach called for an onside kick. The visitors recovered and converted for another touchdown. It was a play that left a bad taste with the Highlanders, who responded by placing points on the board to avoid a shutout.
Kirkley stepped back from the pocket and dumped a screen pass to Richard Smith, who broke free from one tackle and stiff-armed a second to score on an 80-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats did respond with another score and attempted another short kick. The Highlanders recovered the kick, and the defense allowed only one touchdown in the final quarter of play.
Despite having little time left in regulation, the Highlander weren’t about to give in or give up. Kirkley pitched the ball to Smith and he ran toward the sidelines. With one tackle to beat, Smith again stiff-armed the opponent and rushed for another 80-yard gain and a touchdown. Mitchell converted the two-point attempt to give the FPCA boys their 14 points and a sense of pride during their senior night and final home game of the season.
The loss was difficult, but the Highlanders had plenty to smile about as they honored their fall sports program seniors at halftime and kicked off the game with a huge pep rally celebrating last year’s Under Armour Finding Undeniable challenge win.
Representatives from Under Armour came to congratulate FPCA, brought gifts for the audience and filmed the event for an upcoming promotion.
“Good players make good coaches,” FPCA board member Jerry Kicklighter said during the pre-game ceremony. “Well, let me tell you, good students, good parents, good faculty and a great staff make a great school, and at FPCA, we have all of that, and that’s what makes us undeniable.”
Maria Reed, a former teacher at FPCA and the organizer of FPCA’s Finding Undeniable campaign last year, was moved to tears as she spoke about the obstacles the small school overcame to win the challenge.
“I’m not sure Under Armour really understood what we had to go through to really make things happen,” she said. “Most of the schools in the competition were not one or two or three our size, but I think they were anywhere around 13-20 times our size. So, when you look at this, all the odds were against us. Everyone said we didn’t stand a chance. Well, I think we proved them wrong.”

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