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11 14 17 RTCA FootballThanks to a GISA record setting kick by Hannah Keene, the Crusaders of Robert Toombs Christian Academy are heading to the State Championship. They hosted Brentwood Academy last Friday night on McLendon Field and after pulling away to a big lead they let the Eagles back into the game and had to win it in overtime.

 RTCA got on the board first after big runs from Torrey Patterson and Sensier Carnes put the ball at the Brentwood 8-yard line. Jalin Harris took it down to the 3-yard line and then the Crusaders punched it in on a run by Harris with 9:46 left in the first quarter. Keene put the extra point through to lead 7-0.

The second touchdown came early in the second quarter on a 27-yard run by Harris that was set up by solid blocking by the offensive line. Keene added the extra point to put RTCA up 14-0 with 11:08 left in the first half.

 RTCA went for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff trying to catch Brentwood off guard, but the Eagles pulled it in and had good field position at the 50-yard line. Brentwood changed up a few things on offense and got a few things working. On a shuttle pass they got their first score on a 37-yard play. They added the extra point to make the score 14-7, RTCA, with 8:09 left in the first half.

 RTCA was stopped on their next possession, but Brentwood fumbled the ball on the first play giving the ball back to the Crusaders deep in the Eagles territory. Harris punched it down close to the goal line on a few tough runs and then from the 3-yard line Harris got it in for the touchdown with 4:14 left in the first half. Keene added the extra point to make the score 21-7.

 RTCA kicked off to start the second half, but quickly got the ball back as Brentwood fumbled on the first play. The fumble was caused by Harris who put a big hit on the runner and the ball popped out and was grabbed by Carnes. RTCA took over at the 26-yard line and just two plays in Harris went 24 yards for another touchdown for the Crusaders with 11:12 left in the third quarter. Keene added the extra point to put RTCA on top 28-7.

The RTCA defense did a good job on the next series and forced a punt from Brentwood. RTCA took over at their 22-yard line with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter. The drive didn't last long as Patterson went 78 yards on the first play for a touchdown. Keene tacked on the extra point to lead 35-7.

Then all of a sudden the game took a drastic turn. Brentwood made a few plays and got down to the RTCA 36-yard line and then they broke loose and went in from there on a big run. The extra point was blocked by RTCA, but that closed the lead to 35-13 with just over a minute to go in the third quarter.

RTCA started at their own 35-yard line, but this time RTCA fumbled the ball on a snap and Brentwood recovered it at the RTCA 40-yard line. They lost a yard on the first play and then on the second play Brentwood broke another long run for a touchdown. The extra point was good and with 59 seconds to play in the third quarter the score was now 35-20.

The next score also came from Brentwood, this time they had a long pass for 35 yards down to the RTCA 25-yard line with just over five minutes left in the game. Two plays later their full back again broke free and went in for a touchdown. They added the extra point to make the score 35-27with 4:34 left in the game.

Brentwood had all of the momentum at this point and tried to keep it going as they went for an onside kick, but Fernando Zayas recovered it for RTCA. But on the second play of the drive Brentwood came down with an interception and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. They went for a 2-point conversion and threw and incomplete pass, but there was a flag against RTCA giving them a second chance. This time Brentwood got in for the score to tie the game at 35-35 with 3:30 left on the clock..

            RTCA started with good field position after a squib kick that was recovered by Reece Mixon for RTCA. RTCA moved the ball well on the first several plays as they took it across midfield, but RTCA was eating clock up with the running game and had no timeouts left. Patterson had a big run down to the 25-yard line with 35 seconds left in the game. After one more play a big sack by Brentwood ran out most of the clock. RTCA had one more play, but at the end of regulation the game was tied at 35-35.

In overtime each team begins at the 25-yard line. Brentwood had the ball first and could not find the end zone giving RTCA a chance to win the game.

Zack Pendergrass had run down the the 19 yard line and then to the 17. RTCA made it down to the 15 yard line but that forced the Crusaders to attempt a field goal to try to win the game. Keene got the call and came in to try the 32-yard kick. Brentwood called a timeout to try to ice her. Sterling Damron was the holder and did a good job getting the snap down and Keene put her foot into it and immediately everyone knew it was good. She had plenty of leg and it was right down the middle giving the Crusaders a 38-35 win in overtime. The kick was a new State Record for GISA for a girl. The previous record was a 28-yard kick.

That also put RTCA into the State Championship Game which will be this Friday night against Memorial Day at Mercer University at 5:30 p.m.

Coach Thomas Smith said, “I have to tip my hat to Brentwood, they made some adjustments and never gave up and fought all the way. But in the end with Hannah coming in that was huge. We have two kickers, and she came over and told us she had it and she sure did. Earlier as things started to go the other way in the game our guys never quit, got their composure back and just showed tremendous character. Super proud of this group.”

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