Friday night turned into the Jayk Sailer Show and that was everything the Tiftarea Academy Panthers needed in pulling out a miraculous 38-31 high school football victory over Loganville Christian on homecoming.
Sailer scored two touchdowns and kicked a field goal for Tiftarea, including the game-winning 30-yard touchdown.
With 1 minute, 4 seconds remaining and the Panthers trailing 31-30, quarterback Logan Crosson timed a screen pass perfectly and Sailer went bounding into the end zone.
Loganville Christian turned the ball over on downs with 40 seconds left after failing to get a first down.
Thirty-five points were scored in the fourth quarter, a wild 12-minute span that belied the first half.
Tiftarea led at intermission, 8-7. At the end of the end of the third quarter, the squads were tied at 17-all.
The fourth started calmly enough, with Crosson running the ball in from a yard out with 10:12 left. Adam McKinney had gotten them ball with a sliding interception two plays into the period. Sailer kicked the extra point.
Then the madness began.
Tiftarea stripped Cameron Lifsey of the football around his own 25-yard line. The ball squirted through multiple hands until Austin Coleman scooped it up and began running. Sailer finally corralled him at the 16. It saved a touchdown temporarily, but Lifsey was soon over the goal line. Following Carter Smith’s extra-point kick at 6:27, it was 24-24.
A good McKinney return meant the Panthers started their next possession at midfield. After being bailed out by Dylan Harbort on a third down reception, Crosson found his legs. A draw play went for 8 yards and a score at 4:49. The Panthers opted to go for 2 points, but missed a pass.
It was 30-24 when the kickoff went to Jordan Jackson. He caught it at the 13, shook off a few defenders and continued down his own sideline. He scored at 4:33, stunning the Tiftarea crowd. Even more luck went the Lions’ way when Smith’s kick hit the crossbar and bounced over.
Tiftarea took the kickoff back to their own 34. A long field was ahead of them and the clock was ticking. After an initial first down, Crosson was sacked at the 50. Harbort reeled in another pass at the 34 to keep the chains moving.
Crosson ran to the 29, absorbing a hard hit in the process. He missed a play, came back, then disaster struck — an intentional grounding call. Tiftarea had the ball at its own 30.
Crosson then dropped back against a pass rush and found Sailer in the middle of the field on the screen and ultimately the game-winning score.
Crosson handed off in the backfield to Harbort, who threw back to a wide open Crosson for the 2-point conversion.
The game started as a possession battle.
Loganville Christian was without star running back Keon McGhee, but seemed to move with ease against Tiftarea’s defense.
The Panthers scored on Will Ross’ reverse in the first, going up 8-0 on a Crosson pass to Adam McKinney. The only score of the second was Lifsey’s 5-yard run.
Smith put the Lions ahead 10-8 on a 22-yard field goal before Sailer made it 11-10, Tiftarea, with a 22-yard boot of his own.
Sailer took a toss sweep for 40 yards to go up 17-10, then Jackson tied after reeling in an 87-yard pass from Pace.