Warner Robins - One hallmark of Warner Robins all season was to avoid mistakes, and then avoid compounding things when the Demons did make a mistake.
They survived some of both against a scrappy Eagle's Landing team.
Jarius Burnette, who played sparingly down the stretch with a thigh injury, powered in from a yard out on fourth down to give Warner Robins a 26-23 win in overtime over Eagle's Landing in a GHSA Class AAAAA second-round playoff game.
“We knew what was coming,” Eagle’s Landing head coach Shawn Jones said. “We came an inch away from winning the game. He got it on second effort. He had to take a couple hits. Credit to him for getting the ball across and doing his job.”
The Golden Eagles took over on their 20 with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter. They got 23 on fourth and 8, then three on fourth and 1, then four on fourth and 2.
Quarterback Cameron Lewis hit Emanuel Stores for 13 to get to the 22. An incomplete pass later, on came Logan Friddell, whose last field goal attempt was blocked early in the fourth quarter. He was perfect from 39 yards, the snap coming with 5.7 seconds left to tie it at 20 and send it into overtime.
A 5-yard delay of game penalty on third and 4 from the 9 in the overtime forced Eagle’s Landing to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Friddell.
Warner Robins was the beneficiary of an offside on third and 4, setting up first and goal from the 4. But three runs only got the Demons to just inside the one.
Burnette, a power runner, had been stopped after a yard on third down, but bulled his way in on fourth down for the win and keep the Demons undefeated in 12 games.
“I had a lot of faith that our guys could get that one foot, man,” Warner Robins head coach Mike Chastain said. “I’m just proud of ‘em for getting it, too.”
Eagle’s Landing (7-5) won its first playoff game ever last week, and was inches away from following up with a big upset. The Golden Eagles dropped one touchdown pass in the end zone, and another probably touchdown pass that at least would have gone for a long fourth-quarter gain.
Warner Robins will host Carrollton, a 44-0 winner over Arabia Mountain, in a quarterfinal.
Warner Robins survived turnovers and uncharacteristic penalties.
Warner Robins had a nice drive going early in the game and got to the 3 only for the Golden Eagles' defense, mainly Trimarcus Cheeks, Jacob Dormevil and Ishmeal Gilliam, to step up and force a 19-yard field goal with 3:20 left in the first.
Eagle's Landing converted an interception and long return by Deshawn Masten into a 1-yard Lewis touchdown, after Lewis dropped the snap, 2:04 into the second quarter.
The first half ended with a flurry of action.
The Golden Eagles got the ball on the Demons' 15 after a fumble with 8:06 left in the half, and started moving. They were helped by a pass interference call on second and 9 at their 43, and then a holding flag in the secondary on third and 10 from Warner Robins' 25, neither pass being particularly catchable.
Eagle's Landing had to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Friddell after a dropped touchdown pass, and the Golden Eagles led 10-3 with 41 seconds left left.
Not for long.
Jaeven West returned the kickoff 93 yards down the right side, and Eli Mashburn's kick tied it at 10 with 26 seconds left.
The Golden Eagles fumbled at midfield to open the third quarter, but Masten came up with another interception, at the goal line. The Demons held, but did nothing with a short punt, passing incomplete on fourth and 3.
Lewis connected with Bryce Dewberry for 29 yards and then with Stores on the next play for 22 yards and a touchdown for a 17-10 lead with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
Dylan Fromm threw another interception just three plays later to, yes, Masten, and the Golden Eagles moved the ball only to go backwards on a penalty and have to settle for a 44-yard field goal try, which was blocked by Jarius Evans. A sack by Anthony Britton and Jacob Dormevil III dropped Fromm for a 13-yard loss, which the Demons got back only to pass incomplete on fourth down.
The Demons defense answered and Warner Robins got 42 yards on a first-down pass to Julius Cobbs, setting up Burnette’s 1-yard run six plays later on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Mashburn’s kick tied it at 17 with 7:12 left in regulation.
Eagle’s Landing then lost 14 yards on the first two plays after taking over and punted from its 6, setting up the Demons on the 21. But this time, Eagle’s Landing came up with the stop and forced an 18-yard Mashburn field goal for a 20-17 lead with 3:32 remaining.
The Golden Eagles dropped a likely touchdown pass a few plays later, yet still converted on fourth and 8 with a 19-yard pass to Jamari King on the drive to tie the game.
“Inches,” Jones said. “When they talk about it being a game of inches, whatever the cliché is, it definitely played out today. I look at it as we just ran out of time.”
“We just found a way to win,” Chastain said. “You can say ‘What if?’ all day. Our guys found a way to win.”