Pike lifts Northside in OT thriller

WARNER ROBINS — Devon Pike made good on a third try at glory.

The Northside senior delivered a 32-yard, game-winning field in the third overtime as the Eagles edged Peachtree Ridge 20-17 in a GHSA Class AAAAA quarterfinal thriller Friday at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. Northside (12-1) will play Newnan in a semifinal game Friday. The location will be determined via coin toss today. The loss ended Peachtree Ridge’s season at 10-3.

For the second time in the overtime sequence, Pike was called upon to kick on first down. After Peachtree Ridge went scoreless in the first overtime, Northside head coach Conrad Nix chose to send Pike into the game immediately rather than run any plays from scrimmage.

Pike, who later said he wasn’t prepared for the attempt, missed wide to the left. But in the same circumstance in the third overtime, Pike drilled the kick, prompting the Eagles’ sideline to pour onto the field as the home crowd roared its approval.

Nix defended his decision.

“Had we done anything (offensively)?” he asked. “It was obvious we weren’t gonna (be able to) run the ball. I didn’t want to take a chance. Devon’s a good one. I trust for him to win it for us any time.”

Northside struggled to move the ball all night against the physical visitors from Gwinnett County. The Eagles gained just 167 yards of total offense and trailed 10-3 in the waning minutes of the game.

“The best team doesn’t win,” Nix said, with a nod to the Lions’ effort. “We couldn’t block them.”

But suddenly the Eagles struck quickly to tie the game. Reserve quarterback Danny Masteller connected with Brison Williams for a 66-yard touchdown pass play that helped tie the game at 10 with 3:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Northside got the ball back again in time for Pike to try a 45-yard field goal with less than a minute to play. But his attempt was short and wide to the left.

Peachtree Ridge scored the first 10 points of the game. Lions place-kicker Justin Watts hammered a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter as Peachtree Ridge drew first blood. Later in the half, quarterback Nick Lombardo hit receiver Bradley Roby for a 33-yard touchdown on a post pattern. Roby beat double coverage and caught the ball near the back of the Northside end zone.

Briar Van Brunt started at quarterback for the Eagles but was knocked from the game late in the second quarter. Masteller replaced him and quickly delivered an 18-yard pass to Shaquille O’Neill that led to Pike’s 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds remaining in the first half.

Masteller finished the game. The junior completed 8-of-21 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He also connected with Quin Greene for a 15-yard scoring play in the second overtime. But Peachtree Ridge countered with a short touchdown run by Chris Sawhey, setting up the third overtime.