GAINESVILLE -- Despite getting burned for 23 second half points in an offensive showdown, the Chestatee defense eventually saved the day against Lanier in overtime Friday night in a key Region 8-AAAA game for both teams.
Kyle Perry stuffed Longhorns running back Tario Fuller on a third-and-goal at the Chestatee 5 and then picked off a Lanier pass on the next play to preserve a wild 43-36 win for the War Eagles in overtime at War Eagles Stadium.
"The coaches just told us to step it up and we weren't going to let them score again," Perry said. "We didn't do anything different except rise up to the challenge."
The win accomplished several things for the War Eagles. They remained unbeaten in region play (6-1, 5-0) and stayed atop the region standings. It also pushed their win streak to six games, a new school record breaking the old mark set in 2005.
"I can't say enough about these kids," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. "They never quit. We have an older group and they have just done a tremendous job of finding ways to win the close games this year. The defense stepped up when we needed it too. A great team win."
Both teams were virtually unstoppable in the second half combining for 45 points. Chestatee owned the third quarter with touchdown runs by Brandon Thompson (63 yards) and Jordan DeGraff (15 yards) to what looked like at the time a comfortable 27-14 lead.
But Lanier (3-4, 1-3) dominated the fourth quarter getting two touchdown passes from Taylor Grant (40 and 65 yards) and a touchdown run by Grant to give the Longhorns a 36-33 lead with 1:16 left in the game.
But the War Eagles were not done. They marched 40 yards in just over 40 seconds, all on the ground, to set up a 27-yard field goal by Jose Zamora to force overtime. It was a measure of redemption for Zamora, who had missed two extra points earlier.
In overtime, Chestatee faced a fourth-and-3 at the Lanier 7 but Quan Clark muscled his way to the first down and A.J. Sijiye scored one play later to give Chestatee the lead.
Perry and the defense sealed the win six plays later.
Unofficially Clark finished with 131 yards rushing and two touchdowns and Thompson had 162 yards and two scores on just eight carries to pace the War Eagles offense.
Lanier was led by Grant, who finished with 285 yards passing and three TD passes. The Longhorns got a solid game on the ground from William Fayson with 81 yards rushing and one touchdown.
It didn't take long for the offenses to get going. Lanier struck first needing just 1:57 on its first drive. Grant rolled left and hit a wide open Marty Sanders on a 53-yard gain and Fuller finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
The Longhorns looked in business again forcing a Chestatee fumble on the War Eagles' next possession. But Chestatee forced a Lanier punt and then showed off its own big-play ability.
Thompson went straight up the middle, shook off two defenders, and then raced 80 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. But Lanier would answer right back.
This time, the Longhorns used ball control using 7:10 and 12 plays to go 79 yards, capped by a 10-yard pass from Grant to Jahbril Jones for a 14-7 lead. The War Eagles would then respond.
Chestatee showed it can also play a little ball control going 69-yards in 11 plays, with Quan Clark racing 16 yards for a touchdown. But the extra point sailed wide right and the War Eagles trailed 14-13, and it would stay that way till halftime.
In the third quarter Chestatee took control with two scores in the first 10 minutes for a 27-14 lead. But Lanier got going in the fourth quarter.
Grant connected with Jones on a 40-yard out pattern and then connected with sanders on the Longhorns' next possession for 65-yards on an identical play to retake the lead 28-27.
Chestatee stormed right back for a 33-28 lead when Clark went 21 yards to cap a 75 yard drive. DeGraff kept the drive alive on a 19-yard pass to Tommy McCormack on a fourth-and-10 play two plays before Clark's run.
But Lanier came right back again as Grant went 3-for-3 for 50 yards and then scored on a 1-yard keeper to give the Longhorns a 36-33 lead with just 1:09 left in the game.
But Chestatee was not done. Five straight running plays got the War Eagles to the Lanier 10 setting up Zamora's game-tying kick.
Lanier..........7....7.....0....22....0 -- 36
Chestatee....7....6....14.....9....7 -- 43