SANDERSVILLE, Ga. -- Nick Figgs thought he had engineered the perfect two-minute drive for the game-winning touchdown. But to his dismay, game officials ruled that the senior quarterback fumbled the ball at the goal line and Washington County recovered as time expired.
The end result: Washington County 14, Laney 12.
If you were a Laney fan Friday night at the "House of Pain," you questioned the officials on Figgs' attempt for the game-winning touchdown. But if you were a Washington County fan, you were relieved you won't have to see the Laney Wildcats again.
If anybody else doesn't believe the Wildcats are for real, Washington County coach Rick Tomberlin sure does.
"I tell you, that's probably the fastest football team we've played since Elbert County in 1995," Tomberlin said. "And they (Elbert) won the state track championship and the state football championship that year. They are going to the playoffs, this is just a temporary setback for them. Dadgum, those guys fought their butts off. Nobody deserved to lose this game."
Laney fans felt the officials cheated them. After the Wildcats held Washington County on fourth-and-four from its 10-yard line, Laney took over at its own nine with 2:02 left in the game.
They moved to the Washington County four with eight seconds left. After a timeout, Figgs snapped the ball, waited a second, then darted for the end zone. After the game, he said when he was stopped at the goal line, he stuck the ball across the plane of the goal line and thought he had scored.
However, the ball came loose and Washington County recovered the football and time expired.
"I was in there," Figgs said. "I put the ball in the end zone and dropped it and the referee calls it a fumble. The offense gave it all we had on that last drive and we got all the way to the goal line and get a missed call like that. That's sick, man."
But in all fairness, the game should have never came down to that final play.
Both teams made costly mistakes but it seemed Laney's hurt more. The Wildcats' lost a fumble deep in their own territory late in the first quarter that Washington County pounced on and scored its first touchdown, a seven-yard run from Chris Irwin to give Washington County the lead for good.
Twice in the game, Laney jumped offsides on third down to give the Golden Hawks first downs. The Wildcats were penalized seven times for 52 yards in the game.
But Washington County had its share of mistakes, too, including a personal foul call on Laney's second touchdown drive of the night. However, with the exception of that mistake, the Golden Hawks' miscues never came back to hurt them.
Washington County (4-1 overall, 1-0 Region 3-AAA) handed the Wildcats (4-1, 0-1) their first loss of the season, using an impressive ball-control offense behind running backs Chris Irwin and Prinsten Miller. The Golden Hawks ground out 269 yards of offense on the ground alone and found a way to beat Laney -- by keeping the ball away from the Wildcats.
Washington County held a commanding time in possession -- holding the ball for 26:01 in the contest, including 17:39 in the second half.
"That's what happens in a big ball game -- you make some and you miss some," said Laney coach Eric Parker. "We'll see if this team is for real. That's the first region game, we're tied for last place. So we just got to go back to work and see what happens."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.