Roberto Lindsay kicked a 31-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining in the game to lift South Gwinnett to a 16-14 win over Parkview Friday night in Snellville, ending the Panthers' hopes for their first region championship since 2004.
Parkview (7-3, 6-2) will be the third seed from Region 8-AAAAAA and play on the road in the first round of the state playoffs next week. South Gwinnett (8-2, 7-1) clinched the region's second seed. Grayson beat Brookwood 42-13 Friday to win the region championship; Brookwood is the fourth seed.
Lindsay's field goal came after Parkview had taken the lead 14-13 on Justis Rosser's 10-yard touchdown with 4:36 remaining. South then drove 65 yards before settling for the game-winning kick. Settling, because Lindsay had missed badly on a 26-yard attempt and had a PAT blocked earlier in the game.
Parkview played well enough to win and had its chances to do so. The defense held South's prolific quarterback Jordan Ramey in check for a good part of the game, although Ramey still managed to pass for 179 yards and two touchdowns and was elusive on the final drive to keep the Comets alive.
The Panthers put a good bit of pressure on Ramey, sacking him three times and forcing several incompletions. Shaq Vereen's interception and 43-yard return to the South 12 in the first quarter provided Parkview a golden opportunity, but Tyler Stephenson's miss on a 28-yard field goal attempt left the game scoreless. That came after quarterback Mac Marshall had thrown just past Larry Veal's fingertips in the end zone.
Parkview sparkplug Rosser, picking up the Parkview rushing offense with the loss of star running back Chris Carson (leg), scored both of the Panthers' touchdowns and was again their most effective offensive weapon. Rosser rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
His 13-yard TD run with 4:08 left in the first half gave Parkview a 7-0 lead on a drive kept alive by Marshall's 9-yard pass completion to Jay Turner on third-and-4 at the South 30.
The lead was short-lived as South took advantage of a roughing-the-passer penalty to get to midfield. Then Ramey scrambled before hitting Tyrone Atcheson on a 44-yard TD at the 2:08 mark.
Parkview sacked Ramey twice on South's first possession of the second half, but a Panthers three-and-out was followed by an 86-yard drive by South to inside the 10. Ramey completed a 33-yard pass on third-and-9 from the South 5 to keep the drive alive, but Lindsay's missed field goal left the score tied.
A crucial Parkview mistake helped give the Comets the lead midway through the fourth, when the snap to Parkview punter Hunter Thornton dribbled past him all the way back to the Parkview 36. Another roughing-the-passer penalty on Parkview put the ball at the 18. On the next play, Ramey connected with Bernard Morrison in the flat and Morrison made three defenders miss on his way into the end zone. The PAT was blocked for a 13-7 South Gwinnett lead.
Parkview took the lead on its next possession, helped greatly by a 14-yard gain on a third-down bootleg by Marshall, who ended with 32 yards on five carries. Rosser went the final 11 for the touchdown, setting up the game's dramatic finish.
South Gwinnett will host Milton, the third seed from Region 5-AAAAAA, next week in the first round of the playoffs. Parkview will play at Walton, 5-AAAAAA's second seed.
Note: A special thanks to Parkview assistant coach Justin Bishop for providing official statistics for this report.