NORTH AUGUSTA — Homecoming cheers turned to tears Friday night at North Augusta.
The Yellow Jackets lost to Lexington, 18-14, after the Wildcats scored on a 93-yard touchdown pass late in the game.
The loss was the first of the year for North Augusta (6-1, 0-1 Region 5-AAAA) and left some of the football players and cheerleaders showing their emotion on the field after the game.
North Augusta led 14-12 and was driving inside the Lexington 10 when the Wildcats (6-1, 1-0 region) stuffed the Yellow Jackets on fourth down. On the very next play, Lexington quarterback Will Hunter overshot his intended target but the ball wound up in the hands of Ryan Brown, who raced 93 yards for the go-ahead score with 1:46 to play.
“I don’t think it was even supposed to go to me,” Brown said. “But I caught it and I just ran.”
North Augusta coach Dan Pippin called it a fluke play.
“It went through the guy’s hands,” he said. “We should have got the first down. It was a bad play call. We should have called timeout.”
North Augusta led 7-6 at halftime as both teams struggled to find the end zone. The Yellow Jackets struck first when Keyon West ran underneath a perfect Trib Reece pass for a 37-yard score.
Lexington countered with a 14-yard touchdown run by Garvin Jackson, but the extra point failed.
North Augusta gained some breathing room late in the third quarter when Dre Dunbar pulled in a 30-yard TD pass from Reece as the Yellow Jackets went up 14-6.
Lexington responded with a touchdown drive that was capped by Grayson Chumley’s 7-yard run.
North Augusta got one final possession and drove to Lexington’s 33. But the game ended when Reece’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Pippin consoled his players, and told them they still have plenty to play for.
“I told them we’ve got four games to play in the region, we’ve got a lot of time to go,” he said. “I think we all tried to do too much tonight. Going for it on fourth down twice, that’s on me. Even when we were up we started pressing.”
The victory left the Wildcats ecstatic as they gained a leg up in the region race after their improbable win.
“It feels great,” Brown said. “That’s all I can say. It just feels great.”