MONTICELLO, Ga. — Piedmont Academy coach Rhett Farmer had been telling his team for weeks that sooner or later it was going to be tested.
That test came Friday night.
The Cougars had to drive 83 yards in the last three-and-a-half minutes to pull out a 13-8 win over Edmund Burke to win their second consecutive Georgia Independent School Association AA state championship.
They did it without throwing a pass the entire drive and without having any timeouts left.
Junior running back Peter Lawson, who had 192 yards on the night, scored from 20 yards out with only 15 seconds left for the win.
“I give it all to my offensive line,” said Lawson. “They kept opening up holes for me the entire game and the last drive was something none of us will forget. We were all exhausted and we had to dig deep, but we knew that we could do it. The coaches had us ready for a close game. I have never been hit like Edmund Burke hit me tonight, but I knew I had to keep going hard.”
Piedmont had defeated Edmund Burke 35-14 earlier in the season, but it was evident early that it was a different team looking to end the Cougars’ 25-game win streak.
After Piedmont scored on its first drive, the Spartans took the lead midway through the second quarter. They were able to score after a turnover on a Hagen Wade 10 -yard run, and when quarterback Logan Christian ran in the two-point conversion, the Spartans had the lead and the momentum.
Edmund Burke was able to hold that lead until late in the fourth quarter and actually had the ball with only five minutes left , but could only pick up one first down before the Cougar defense stiffened.
Farmer went with what had worked all year in the game-winning drive, which was a steady dose of Lawson. He carried the ball nine out of 13 plays, picking up 61 yards. With only 21 seconds left though, Farmer was going to have to run the ball into the middle one more time, then spiked the ball and try a field goal. Lawson, however, had other ideas, as he went untouched the first 10 yards, before he was tripped up. He maintained his balance though and fell into the end zone, giving Piedmont the state title.
“It could not have been any better than this,” said Farmer. “Peter is such a tough kid, and he just found a way to win. I thought that Edmund Burke really didn’t attack us like they had all game on the last drive and that allowed us to keep it on the ground.
“It’s just a special win for a special bunch of kids, and it is definitely the biggest win in my coaching career.”