Hart blocks late field goal to preserve Harris County's win
By RYAN BLACK
HAMILTON, Ga. -- Warner Robins kicker Connor Shaw had been a lock Friday night. He converted all of four of his extra points and knocked in a 24-yard field goal with ease, showing enough leg to prove he would have made it from a much longer distance.
He had a chance to prove that with just 13 seconds remaining.
Harris County's Easton Hart had other ideas.
The senior linebacker shot through a gap and blocked Shaw's 44-yard field goal, which sealed the Tigers' 33-31 victory in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
Harris County coach Dwight Jones was breathless afterward.
"I'm not sure I would say I was as excited as I was nervous to death," he said. "Their kicker showed he had a big leg. Thank goodness for Easton Hart."
With the win, the Tigers (9-2) move on to the second round of the playoffs. The Demons' (6-5) season, on the other hand, came to a close.
No blame could be laid at the feet of Ivan Corbin, though. Warner Robins' junior signal-caller scored all three of the team's second half touchdowns, with his final score giving the visitors a 31-27 lead with 6:56 to go.
The Tigers wouldn't relent, though.
On their final possession, they bled nearly five minutes off the clock. Starting at their own 20-yard line,
the Tigers went on a 15-play, 80-yard drive.
As he has done all season, senior Tae Crowder came through when Harris County needed him most. With Harris County facing second-and-four on the 6-yard line, Crowder worked his way through a host of Warner Robins defenders and into the end zone for the game's final points with 1:31 left.
The Demons had one last salvo in them, though.
Beginning at their own 36-yard line on the contest's final possession and 1:24 remaining, the Demons let Corbin take to the air. On his last play, Corbin did what he had done all night: frustrate the Tigers with his feet. Corbin picked up eight yards on third-and-2 from the 35 to put Shaw in position for his ill-fated kick.
After the Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind a pair of Crowder touchdowns, it looked like it might turn into a rout. But the Demons fought back, scoring 17 unanswered points. From there, it was a back-and-forth affair until the end.
"You've got to give Warner Robins a lot of credit," Jones said. "We had them in a hole early, but they never gave up. That's a good team over there."
It marks the third straight year the Tigers have advanced past the first round of the playoffs. As the champions of Region 1-AAAAA, Harris County has a 1-seed in the postseason. Next week, Harris will host state powerhouse Gainesville, which hung on to beat Creekview 42-37 on Friday night.
Knowing how tough it is to win any postseason contest, Jones was thankful his team was able to survive and advance to keep their hope of a state title alive.
"There are only 16 teams left (in the Class AAAAA playoff bracket)," he said. "That's pretty special. We're blessed to be in this position."
Friday at Tiger Stadium
Warner Robins 0 10 14 7--31
Harris County 14 0 13 6--33
HC- Tae Crowder 31 run (Matthew Crumbley kick), 9:35
HC- Crowder 2 run (Crumbley kick), 5:10
WR- Danny Hite III 7 pass from Ivan Corbin (Connor Shaw kick)
WR- Shaw 24 FG, 4:52
WR- Corbin 17 run (Shaw kick), 8:00
HC- Noah Kosobucki 30 pass from Taquon Marshall (Crumbley kick), 6:54
HC- Juan O'Neal 1 run (Crumbley kick missed)
WR- Corbin 10 run (Shaw kick), 2:46
WR- Corbin 8 run (Shaw kick), 6:56
HC- Crowder 6 run (Crumbley kick blocked), 1:31