With the game seemingly out of reach, Evans refused to lay down in the final minute against rival Lakeside on Friday night.
That resolve paid off immediately – and in stunning fashion.
With 21 seconds left and trailing 21-19, Evans quarterback Matlin Marshall rolled right and hit to Joacinto Grimes on a 45-yard touchdown pass. Grimes, who caught it at the 15, sprinted in for the game-winning score with 16 seconds left as the Knights shocked the Panthers, 26-21.
That play topped a chaotic final minute that saw the Knights (5-4, 3-3 Region 2-AAAAA) score a touchdown on a Ronnie Graham 8-yard run with 50 seconds remaining to close to within two points, only to be followed by a failed two-point conversion before the Knights’ Sean Vandiver dove on the onside kick – giving them a final chance.
A choked-up Evans coach Marty Jackson said, “The surest way to be successful is to try one more time, and I think they believe it."
The Panthers (6-3, 4-2) had the ball inside the Knights’ 10 twice in the fourth quarter, but stalled and two field goals missed. Panthers head coach Jarrett Troxler was just as emotional after the game.
“I told them I love them, they played their hearts out and we didn’t take advantage of opportunities when we had it inside there to score twice,” he said. “We didn’t score and that could have (put) the game away.”
The Panthers had a chance to play for a home playoff game next week, but now the picture is muddled.
EVANS 26, LAKESIDE 21
PLAY OF THE GAME: With 21 seconds left and trailing 21-19, Evans quarterback Matlin Marshall rolled right and lofted a pass to Joacinto Grimes, who sprinted in for a 45-yard game-winning score.
STAR OF THE GAME: Marshall made the throw of the year when Evans needed it and rushed for 76 tough yards.
WHY EVANS WON: The Knights refused to lay down in the game’s final minute, recovering an onside kick after a failed two-point conversion left them trailing by two.
WHY LAKESIDE LOST: Failed to convert twice deep in Evans territory in the fourth quarter that could have put the game away.
RECORDS: Lakeside 6-3, 4-2 Region 2-AAAAA, Evans 5-4, 3-3.
NEXT: Lakeside vs. Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Evans at Northside, Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
EVANS 26, LAKESIDE 21
Lakeside 0 7 14 0 – 21
Evans 6 7 0 13 – 26
E–Ronnie Graham 4 run (kick fail), 8:04
E–Matlin Marshall 11 run (Larry Beauchamp kick), 11:33
L–Forrest Nanney 19 pass from Hunter Banks (Luke Harmon kick), 9:03
L–Nanney 33 pass from Banks (Harmon kick), 6:43
L–Raymond 75 pass from Banks (Harmon kick), 4:31
E–Ronnie Graham 8 run (pass fail), :50
E–Joacinto Grimes 45 pass from Marshall (Beauchamp kick), :16
RUSHING–Lakeside: Jalen Harrison 10-55, Nick Patterson 1-0, Jonathan Edwards 3-3, Stephen Houzah 3-7, Joshua Jones 5-9; Evans: Ronnie Graham 23-127, Matlin Marshall 28-76, Malik Vandiver 1-3
PASSING–Lakeside: Banks 10-19-0-220; Evans: Marshall 12-15-1 97, Colin Dominy 0-1-1-0
RECEIVING–Lakeside: BJ Raymond 4-159, Jonathan Edwards 4-9, Forrest Nanney 2-52; Evans: K’Lon Lovett 4-15, Justin Jackson 1-10, Graham 1-2, Robert Clay 1-5, Joacinto Grimes 4-51, Malik Vandiver 1-5.