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Social Circle drops heartbreaker to Monticello
Social Circle quarterback Jackson Will sprints toward the end zone during Friday night's region matchup against Monticello. - photo by Cassie Jones | The Covington News

By Matthew Grimes

MONTICELLO, Ga. –Social Circle traveled down to face the Monticello Hurricanes Friday in a Region 2-AA game destined for a Friday night thrill. The game indeed delivered on the hype as a late turnover with under 30 seconds left, proved to be the deciding factor in the Redskins’ 21-13 loss.  

With just 2:18 left in the game, and 53 yards to go, the Redskins, as expected, took to the air and carved out an inspiring drive, putting the ball at the goal line. On 4th and 5 from just inside the 10 yard line, quarterback Jackson Will scrambled up the middle, and was tackled just short of the goal line. He quickly lined his team up, and spiked the ball.

Then on 2nd and goal at the 1-yard line, with 29 seconds left, Will took the snap under center, and pushed through the line. But the ball was poked loose, and recovered by Monticello, resulting in  one sideline erupting with joy and the other crumbling with heartbreak.

Despite the crushing defeat, Social Circle coach, Chad Estes said he was proud of his team’s effort in the waning moments of the game.

“We were right there,” Estes said. “To have an opportunity to try to tie the game up and go into overtime, it shows how far these kids have come. I’m very proud of them.”

It was a tight, well-played game for most of the night.

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Canes took to the short passing game, chiseling away at the Redskins. However, Social Circle’s defense prevailed, forcing the Canes to punt, which only resulted in a meager 2-yard net kick.

The Redskins’ took the ball, and trudged down the field alternating from pass to run for eight straight plays. They took the ball down into Monticello territory, but were forced to attempt a 47-yard field goal.

A bad hold caused the kick to fall short at the 4-yard line where Monticello downed it and took possession. The Canes had their backs to their own goal line, but took to the air with a 39-yard pass play, giving them some much welcomed breathing room,

The very next play, the Canes coughed it up. Redskins’ linebacker Chad Branch recovered and returned the ball 15 yards to give his offense some nice field position.

Social Circle leisurely and efficiently passed the ball down the field in a time-consuming drive taking it into the red zone. The ‘Skins converted a 3rd-and-long to give them the ball at the 2, where Will bulldozed into the end zone on a quarterback sneak.  After another botched snap on the extra point, Social Circle was up 6-0.

After muffing the kickoff, the Canes looked shaky, but quickly recovered and mounted a nice drive down the field forcing a goal line battle. The defense held for three plays, but then finally caved, as the Canes burst through the heart of the Social Circle line to convert a 4th-and-goal for a touchdown. The score put Monticello up 7-6 in the second quarter, just before halftime.

The second half began with three short drives in which each offense punted. But on Monticello’s second drive of the half, the Canes pounded away at Social Circle’s defense, and once again scored on a short run at the goal line, extending their lead to 14-6.

Social Circle’s second half offense remained stagnant, quickly going three-and-out on its next drive.

But on Monticello’s ensuing possession, quarterback Jaymerious Fleetwood lofted the ball up to receiver Gavin Sands who beat man coverage and waltzed into the end zone for a 55-yard score, putting the Canes up 21-6.

After each team punted again, Social Circle walked down the field, and punctuated another drive with a two-yard touchdown run from Jackson Will.

Monticello looked to be driving for a score that would ice the game, but an errant pass on an ill-advised screen play was picked off by Social Circle junior Tate Peters on an incredibly athletic dive, giving the Redskins, their last chance for victory.

Estes had high praise for his team’s resiliency.

 “There was a lot of adversity that happened throughout the course of the game,” he said. “And I thought our kids never gave up and played extremely hard.”

Social Circle (2-5, 1-2) will look to build on the effort when it hosts Rabun County (6-0, 2-0)  Friday night in another region matchup.

Estes said he’s looking forward to “getting back to work on Monday,” in hopes of ending their current two game losing skid.