First Presbyterian Christian Academy nearly stole the show — and the program’s first win — with a second-half comeback, but Robert Toombs Christian Academy held on for a 48-46 win Friday at Long Bell Stadium.
FPCA (0-7 overall) was down by three touchdowns in the second half, but clawed back and had chance for the winning touchdown in the final minute before a big turnover.
“It was a great comeback,” FPCA football coach Andy Yanzetich said. “I’ve never seen us play so hard like we did there towards the end. We are fighting the end and it’s amazing … these guys are eventually going to do it … hopefully by the end of the season, we are going to get that win.”
The Highlanders trailed 36-14 at halftime, but a Crusaders fumble and Highlanders recovery started the rally. Shortly after, FPCA quarterback Domonique Kirkley scrambled 13 yards for a touchdown. FPCA missed the extra point to make the score 36-20.
The Highlanders had the opportunity for a go-ahead touchdown when they caught the Crusaders sleeping on the ensuing kickoff. The Crusaders never went after the ball as it rolled, and Chris Guilfo pounced on the live ball at the Crusaders 3. However, the Crusaders got a tackle for a loss on the first place of FPCA’s drive, and a bad snap then gave the Crusaders the ball on a turnover.
As the fourth quarter got under way, the Crusaders marched to the Highlanders 44. But the Highlanders’ Herbert Roberts recovered a Crusader fumble and took the ball 56 yards for a touchdown. The extra point failed, but the deficit was cut to 10 points at 36-26.
The Crusaders methodically ran the ball downfield and culminated the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run and a 42-26 lead. RTCA attempted an onside kick, but FPCA’s Brandon John Batiste recovered, made a move to his right and bolted for 55 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, it was 42-33 with seven minutes left.
The Highlanders attempted their own onside kick and recovered the ball. Kirkley tossed the ball to Roberts who saw daylight and ran for about 45 yards and a touchdown to make the score 42-39.
The Crusaders didn’t panic and responded by scoring a touchdown on a three-play drive. They missed the extra point, making it a 48-39 ball game with six minutes left.
Starting at the Highlanders 37, Guilfo made a reception and took the ball to the Crusaders 15. Roberts scrambled to the 4, then punched it through to cut RTCA’s lead to two points with four minutes left.
The Highlanders defense held, and FPCA took over on downs. Late in the ensuing drive, Roberts tossed the ball toward the corner of the end zone where Kirkley was poised to make the catch. But at the last second, a Crusader jumped to the interception.
The Crusaders were deep in their own territory, but got just enough yardage to get clear of their own end zone and ran out the clock.