Richmond Hill was knocked out in the first round of the GHSA Class 1A-4A flag football state playoffs Tuesday night but the Wildcats did not go quietly.
Long County scored on a one-point rushing attempt in the fifth overtime to slip past Richmond Hill, 7-6, in a game played in Columbus. It is believed to be the longest playoff game in any classification in the short three-year history of the playoffs.
The Wildcats (10-3) took a 6-0 lead in the first half on an 8-yard run by Kayla Jackson, who has signed with Jacksonville University to play soccer, and thanks to a strong defensive effort made it stand up until the Blue Tide (9-3) scored a touchdown on a long pass late in the game.
“You don’t see too many overtime games and this was our second one in two weeks,” Coach Tony Dragon said. “We beat St. Vincent’s (18-12) and that was our first overtime game in the three years of the program. Now, we’ve played two.” In the first overtime both teams had four plays to score from the 10-yard line. In the second overtime each team got four shots at the end zone from the 5-yard line.
When neither could score a touchdown on their first two possessions rules called for them to get one play to score one point from the 3-yard line.
The Blue Tide finally broke through in the fifth overtime when it scored to take the lead. The Wildcats then saw sophomore quarterback Avery Washington hit senior Alena Masis in the back of the end zone only to have the officials rule she had caught the ball out of bounds.
“We moved the ball well in the first half, played good defense and controlled the game,” Dragon said. “They made some adjustments at halftime and we didn’t move it as well.” The game saw 10 seniors play their final game for Richmond Hill. In addition to Jackson and Masis other seniors in their final outing were Lucy Tuttle, Kendal Cox, Shannon Lacy, Keira Jones, Kayla Ragins, Ella Mahaffey, Ella Snider and Mary Peregrina.
As sophomore in the school’s first year of flag football the Wildcats advanced to the Final Four and were also in the playoffs last year.
“We had a great run and we won 10 games,” Dragon said. “The ball didn’t go our way. This loss can’t take away from the season we had.”
While the Wildcats are losing some excellent players who played key roles in establishing the program the future, Dragon said, is bright.
“Our junior varsity team was undefeated,” Dragon said. “They gave up only one touchdown. I feel good about the future. I feel we’re in a good position for continued success.”