West Forsyth coach Frank Hepler gambled and won Friday night against Chestatee when his team’s 2-point conversion after an overtime touchdown was the difference in a 42-41 victory.
The Wolverines (7-2, 2-2 Region 7B- AAA) overcame an early 20-0 deficit but missed a potential game-winning field goal with 2.8 seconds left in regulation, and the teams headed to overtime in a 34-34 tie.
Chestatee struck first in overtime when Ben Souther pounded in his fourth touchdown of the game from the 3 and a 41-34 lead with the extra point.
Lance Baker, who finished with four touchdown passes and one rushing, answered the call with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jason Klanac.
Instead of kicking the extra point, Hepler decided to go for two points and the win. Baker took the snap, rolled to his right and took off for the pylon at the corner of the end zone, scoring to end the game.
“Chestatee was a great team,” Baker said. “We have a great team. I am very proud of everyone on the team. Coach Hepler tells us that the four days of practice and hard work will take care of itself on Friday nights.”
“You believed. Tonight, that was football, and this is why you play the game, and it is the greatest game on earth,” Hepler told the team after the game.
“You all have a lot of pride. You stayed disciplined all the time.”
For Souther, who ran the ball 36 times for 219 yards, it was a hard loss to take.
“We could not have done anything different,” he said. “We played hard and they are a good team.”
“We gave so much effort and we just came up a little short,” Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. “We played hard and our defense gave a ton of pressure on the missed field goal to get us into overtime.”
Coming off two straight losses, the War Eagles (4-5, 3-2 7A-AAA) jumped out to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.
Baker then drove the Wolverines downfield, and on the first play of the second quarter, found tight end Andy Cameron for a 12-yard touchdown.
After a Chestatee fumble, West recovered on its own 48. Two plays later, Baker found running back Parker Chapman for a 50-yard touchdown to cut the margin to 20-13.
Following a touchdown by Chestatee, Ben Emert added a 23-yard touchdown run with 1:04 remaining in the second quarter to keep the Wolverines within a touchdown, 27-20.
West tied it in the third quarter after Baker ran in on a 1-yard sneak, the extra point making it 27-27.
Baker’s third touchdown pass was a 19-yard connection with Ethan Shirley that tied the game 34-34.
West returns home for its season finale to face West Hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday