The Sandy Creek Patriots are now unbeaten in 40 regular-season games, but it was the clock that stopped them Thursday night.
Not the game clock. The real clock.
With the score tied at 27 against the Plant (Fla.) Panthers, the referees stopped play at 11:30 p.m. according to GHSA rules. The game had started at 8:30 due to an earlier game on the Sandy Creek field between Eastern Christian (Md.) and Banneker, and the nightcap slowed to a crawl at times due to penalties and various play stoppages.
Just over a minute was left on the game clock in the fourth quarter when the game ended. The final play was a Sandy Creek punt, with Plant set to start play at its own 42.
Delvin Weems ran for three touchdowns in the game, including a 71-yard sprint down the left sideline in the middle of the third quarter to put the home team ahead 27-19. Just two minutes before that, Weems scored from 5 yards out after racing 48 yards on third down to the Panthers’ 19 to keep a drive alive. He scored the first Sandy Creek touchdown of the night on a 42-yard run that cut Plant’s lead to 12-7 with 3:13 left in the first half.
On the first play of the next drive, Brian Miller picked off a pass and ran to the Panthers’ 30, and Eric Sweeney scored from 6 yards out with 45 seconds on the clock to give the Patriots a one-point lead at intermission.
Miller kept Sandy Creek out of the loss column with another huge defensive play, this time in the fourth quarter as he blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt with two minutes left.
The game started rough for the Patriots, with an interception on their first play from scrimmage and two fumbled punts in the first quarter. One of those kept the Panthers’ opening drive alive, along with a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a field goal attempt. Plant took a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Panthers took the lead back with a 98-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff of the second half. They added the game’s final score with eight seconds left in the third quarter.
The Patriots’ next game is at home against Newnan Sept. 6.