Friday was a historic night for the FPCA Highlanders, who narrowly beat the Monsignor Donovan Rams 45-42.
After piling up a three-touchdown lead in the first quarter, the Highlanders would battle the rest of the game to stay ahead.
In the first quarter, the Highlanders’ scores came within the first four minutes. At 9:29 on the clock, George Mitchell intercepted and ran the ball into the end zone. The conversion to Khalyn Weekley was good. At 9:17 senior Matthew Smith forced a Rams’ fumble which Mitchell recovered. Mitchell scored again for a 14-0 lead.
Sophomore Palmer Whitney then kicked an onside kick, which was recovered by Mitchell. The third TD came at 8:20 when quarterback Steven Young connected with Weekley on a long pass. The score was 20-0.
An attempt late in the quarter to add three more to the Highlander’s lead was denied when senior Ausar Gibbs’ field goal was called back on a penalty.
The Rams finally got through the Highlander defense for a touchdown with 19 seconds left in the quarter, which ended 20-6.
The remainder of the game was a back and forth battle. The Rams shook off shellshock from the first quarter and doggedly made their way back. At 7:51 in the second quarter, a Rams touchdown and two-point conversion narrowed the gap.
Weekley scored a TD with 6:09 left in the half to give FPCA a 26-14 lead. The Rams scored another TD and two-point conversion in the third.
Another offensive war ignited in the fourth quarter. Another two touchdowns by Mitchell with an extra point by Ausar Gibbs, and a TD by Sensier Carnes negated the three touchdowns and conversion scored by the Rams.
Head coach Terry Middleton said he was pleased with how the Highlanders are progressing.
“We are improving each week we come out”, he said. “There are some things we still need to work on, such as pushing through later quarters when our kids are exhausted from playing both sides of the ball. Even though we are early in the season, this has been our most successful season ever, and I am proud of them.”
FPCA Athletic Director and assistant coach Shane Smith said, “We have never scored three touchdowns so early and so quickly. As early as we are in the season, we have more wins (three) then we have ever had. It takes years to build a winning football program, and we are seeing the results of our work play out on the field.”
Smith’s said he was especially happy the seniors are having success after years of work.
“In previous seasons, schools that played FPCA took the game as an easy win,” he said. “That tone and attitude has now been adjusted. They now know that the Highlanders come out on Friday nights fighting, and we come to win.”
The Highlanders will play Georgia Christian Friday in Valdosta. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
The Highlanders are 0-2 against the Generals. Georgia Christian is coming into the game 0-5, carrying a smaller roster than FPCA, but being senior heavy at all skilled positions. Last year, the Generals struggled at 3-9 overall and beat FPCA 34-20.