Gordon Central has shown progress in their first two games as they are in the midst of a rebuild under new head coach Cory Nix, and on Friday night they got as close to a signature win as they have had in a long, long time. But LaFayette made a second-half surge from two scores down to send the Warriors to a heartbreaking 28-27 loss on Homecoming Night at Ratner Stadium.
After the Ramblers (2-2) had rallied into the lead with two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, Gordon Central (0-3) drove down the field in the final minutes and scored on a 14-yard TD run by Brent Silvar to make it 28-27 with 47.3 seconds remaining. The Warriors felt confident enough to go for two and the win, but LaFayette’s defense held them out for the game-defining play. Gordon Central attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but LaFayette recovered and took a knee to run out the clock.
Nix said this is a tough loss, but his team will use it as another learning experience as they continue to aim for that first win and consistent success.
“I’ve been telling the kids the first one is going to be the toughest,” said Nix. “This one definitely stings. I feel like we had a great opportunity, and didn’t take advantage. We played well at times in the first half, and then coming out in the second half, I thought we would continue our good second-half play that we’ve had to start the season. We got up there in the third quarter, but we couldn’t hold it. I’m not really sure what happened. We didn’t execute well enough, but we’ll learn from the mistakes and keep moving forward.
“I’ll take the full blame on going for two there. I felt like we had the momentum, and I discussed it with our coaches during the timeout. I thought now was the time. It’s live or die right there. We went out and gave a great effort, but it didn’t work out. And credit to the LaFayette defense.”
Leading 13-7 to start the third quarter, Gordon Central came out of the locker room and immediately seized the momentum, going on a long touchdown drive punctuated by Gauge Giddens’ 23-yard touchdown run. Giddens had a huge night with 152 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns to lead the Warriors’ offense. After the two-point run by Martavius Harris, Gordon Central led 21-7 early in the third.
That’s when the game tilted back in favor of LaFayette as they scored on their next three possessions thanks to a one-yard TD run by Alan Hu, a five-yard TD run by Dakota Cathey and another five-yard TD run by Hu to put the Ramblers up 28-21 with 6:50 to play in the fourth quarter. Cathey had 194 yards rushing for LaFayette on 14 carries with a touchdown and a receiving touchdown. Hu added 60 yards and two scores. Colton Lane ran for 56 yards on eight carries.
The Warriors didn’t go away, marching down the field on a long drive before Silvar’s touchdown run to pull within one. It was Silvar’s second TD run of the game as he ran for 77 yards on six carries. Harris also ran for 61 yards for Gordon Central.
The Warriors started fast in the first quarter as their defense got a quick stop following the opening kickoff, and then went 68 yards on their first offensive drive which was punctuated by a 38-yard touchdown run by Silvar.
LaFayette answered right back on the ensuing drive, converting on a fourth down with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ty Fisher to Cathey to tie things up at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
The two defenses traded stops until Gordon Central once again found the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown run by Giddens. The kick failed, but the Warriors took a 13-7 lead, which was the score at the half.
The Gordon Central defense came up with one turnover in the first half as Dorian McConnell recovered a fumble at the LaFayette 36 late in the half. The offense was unable to turn it into points, however. LaFayette forced one turnover as well with Tyrese Marsh coming up with an interception late in the third quarter.
Gordon Central will open Region 7-AA play next Friday when they visit defending region champion Pepperell in Lindale.