TYRONE, GA. — On the road, short-handed and working on a short week of practice, the Plant Panthers got off to a strong start against Georgia power Sandy Creek, withstood the home team’s rally and were in position to win in the Brothers In Arms Classic.
Instead, the Patriots — ranked No. 5 in the nation by MaxPreps — got the big play at the end, a blocked field goal with 2:24 left.
Thirty-four seconds of play later the game was called at 11:30 p.m. because of school-night curfew rules. The teams were tied at 27.
Plant had driven from its 46 to the Patriot 17 before stalling. The Panthers lined up for the 34-yard field goal try, but Sandy Creek’s Brian Miller broke around the end and blocked the kick. Sandy Creek was unable to move before the game was called for the curfew.
It was the third out-of-state trip for Plant in the past four years, none of which resulted in a Panther win.
Plant quarterback Colby Brown passed for 128 yards and three touchdowns to three receivers, and Alexander Jackson added 77 rushing yards on 19 attempts for Plant (0-1-1).
Sandy Creek running back Delvin Weems rushed for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Sandy Creek quarterback Cole Garvin, who last year passed for more than 2,500 yards, was limited to 83 yards on 9-of-17 passing.
The Panthers fashioned a 12-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, at which point they’d held the Patriots to 13 total yards and no first downs.
Plant capitalized on an interception, a muffed punt and a roughing the kicker penalty to score first. Place kicker Hunter Anderson missed a 40-yard field goal try, but a Sandy Creek player ran into him, giving the Panthers a first down at the Patriots’ 12-yard line. On the next play Brown hit tight end Clark Miller in the right side of the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
Brown capped a nine-play, 53-yard drive with his second touchdown pass, a 20-yarder to Austin Hudson for a 12-0 lead with 5:28 left in the first half.
Sandy Creek, seeking its 40th straight regular-season win, drove 66 yards in five plays for its first score, a 42-yard run by Weems.
After Brown was picked off by Sandy Creek’s Brian Miller, the Patriots drove 30 yards in five plays, capped by a 6-yard run from Eric Swinney that put them ahead for the first time at 13-12 in the final minute of the first half.
Plant regained the lead at 19-13 on Jordan Reed’s 98-yard kickoff return to start the second half, but the Patriots answered on the next series, moving 75 yards on seven plays. The key point was Weems’ 47-yard run for a first down at the Panther 19, and four plays later he tip-toed in from 6 yards out.
Weems’ 71-yard run midway through the third quarter put Sandy Creek up 27-19.
Plant pulled even on the last play of the third when Brown connected with Fletcher Barnes on a 4-yard pass on third and goal. Jackson’s two-point run tied the score at 27.