In the fifth straight heart-breaking loss for Habersham, the Raiders overcame a 20-6 halftime deficit to take a 27-20 lead with 2 minutes to play only to see Gainesville use a miraculous 81-yard touchdown on the way to a last-second win.
After taking a 27-20 lead and holding Gainesville to a 4th & 19 from its own 19, a Tre Luttrell hail mary worked, resulting in an 81-yd TD to Trey Blackwell, tying the game. Habersham went 3-and-out, and Gainesville knocked home a game-winning 36-yd field goal by Christian Jaimes, who hit three in the game. Both teams entered with a 4-game losing streak in their 8-AAAAAA opener.
AJ Curry and Jim Barnett hooked up on the first play of the game, a long pass that set up a Baylor Hinshaw 2-yard touchdown, one of his three rushing scores in the game. The extra point missed, but Habersham was up 6-0. Gainesville generated little offense in the first quarter, settling for a Jaimes 34-yard field goal to cut the deficit in half.
However, Luttrell came to life in the second quarter, displaying his athleticism with a 43-yard touchdown run to give the Red Elephants a 10-6 lead. Later in the half, Luttrell tossed a pass in the flats to Tyriq Kabir, who went 30 yards to the end zone. A Jaimes field goal as time expired in the second quarter gave Gainesville a sizable 20-6 halftime lead.
The Raiders weren’t going away easy, as Hinshaw notched a huge run midway through the third quarter. He capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to pull the Raiders within 20-13. After Gainesville, pinned deep in its own territory, was set to punt on the next possession, the snap went over Jaimes’ head and resulted in Habersham taking over at the five yard line. Two plays later, AJ Curry rolled to his right and took a dive into the end zone to tie the game at 20.
With 7:22 left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders took back the lead with Hinshaw’s third rushing touchdown, this time from 17 yards out. Habersham was up 27-20, and had a chance to put the game away when Luttrell, looking to tie it up, threw an interception in the end zone. Donovan Curry was the culprit, as he netted a solid return on play as well. The Raider offense stalled, which led to Luttrell’s hail mary pass on 4th & 19 (from the Gainesville 19-yard line). With the “prevent” defense on (multiple safeties trying to prevent any hail mary pass), Luttrell was given all the time in the world to find someone open.
Despite one Habersham player potentially being held on the play, Luttrell got off the pass, which seemed to hang in the air as long as a punt would have. Blackwell corrected himself, came back to the ball, and made the catch amidst two Raider defenders, then turned and beat them in a footrace to the end zone…81 yards and an unimaginable play with just 1:51 left in the game.
Tied at 27, the Raiders quickly went three-and-out again, and the punt gave Gainesville the ball close to midfield. Luttrell made a couple of quick passes to the sideline and netted a 20-yard run to set the Red Elephants up with a chip-shot field goal for Jaimes, who was incredible. He nailed the field goal with 1.3 seconds to play, giving Gainesville the 30-27 win. Habersham falls to 1-5 on the season, with all five losses coming by a combined 14 points.
WEEK 7 SCORES
Gainesville 30, Habersham Central 27
#3 Rabun 59, Putnam 0
#6 Commerce 55, Providence Christian 0
#4 Blessed Trinity 43, White 14
Dawson 52, Union 21
St. Pius 28, Stephens 13
North Hall 55, Lumpkin 14
#10 Flowery Branch 49, Walnut Grove 13
#2 Buford 70, Johnson 0
West Hall 28, Chestatee 14
#2 GAC 59, East Hall 0