By Jonathan Deal
Center Point —
Bram McGrady’s 45 yard field goal soared threw the uprights with five seconds remaining to give Athens a 24-22 win over Center Point in the first round of the state playoffs.
It was the longest field goal of McGrady’s career.
“I was a little nervous,” said McGrady. “It felt good when it left my foot. When I saw it hooking back, I knew it was in.”
McGrady’s game-winning field goal sent brought the traveling Athens crowd to its feet and players running down the sideline. Athens tackled the Center Point ball carrier to leave Center Point with a narrow victory.
“I think Bram does better with a little pressure,” said Athens head coach Allen Creasy. “We were confident he could make it.”
The game-wining field goal came after Center Point scored 22 unanswered points in the second half. Athens led 21-0 at halftime thanks to some big plays from its defense.
Derek Teague picked off Center Point quarterback Keillan Knight at the 10-yard line and returned it 90 yards to give Athens a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Defensive lineman Brian Sulcer read another Knight pass and returned it 45 yards for a score in second quarter. The Athens defense then forced a three-and-out that set up a Tarik Malone 66-yard touchdown run to the Golden Eagles up 21-0 at halftime.
Malone led Athens with 13 carries for 81 yards and score. Quarterback Stevie Farmer completed 5 of 17 passes for 107 yards with no interceptions.
Taylor Northern and Johnnie Anderson each had two sacks for Athens.
Athens will host a second round playoff for the first time since 2006 next week.