GAINESVILLE — Gainesville football saw another tough battle slipping from its grasp on Friday.
Only this time Trey Blackwell, Tre Luttrell and Christian Jaimes would not let go.
Trailing Habersham Central by seven late in the fourth quarter, Luttrell connected with Blackwell for an 81-yard touchdown pass on fourth down, before Jaimes capped an incredible fight back with a 36-yard field goal with just over a second remaining to clinch a 30-27 victory at City Park.
Their play, combined with a gritty defensive effort, helped the Red Elephants (2-4, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAAA) halt a four-game losing skid and open region play with a critical victory.
Luttrell finished the night with 160 yards rushing and 266 yards passing and three total touchdowns -- including the bomb to Blackwell, who finished with four catches for 107 yards. Tyriq Kabir also hauled in nine passes for 99 yards and a score (30 yards).
Jaimes also proved clutch, drilling all three field goals attempted on the night, including a 48-yarder just before halftime that gave the Red Elephants a 20-6 advantage. His first got Gainesville on the board at 6-3 from 35 yards in the first quarter. Yet none were as impressive as the 36-yarder to end the contest after Gainesville had forced a punt to take over possession at the Habersham 38-yard line with 27 seconds remaining and tied 27-27.
The late scores ended a wild contest that saw Habersham storm back in front in the fourth quarter after a muffed punt and Red Elephants fumble helped the Raiders to three straight touchdowns. Baylor Hinshaw -- who finished the night with 103 yards on the ground and three scores -- made it 27-20 after Habersham recovered a Red Elephants fumble at the Gainesville 33.
Raiders quarterback AJ Curry completed 15 of 28 passes for 172 yards and rushed for 44 yards and a score, as the Gainesville defense harrassed the standout signal caller throughout. Jim Barnett also caught five passes for 82 yards. Bryce Tanner also caught seven passes for 58 yards.
Habersham fell behind 20-6 at the half but surged back in front on scoring runs from Hinshaw (16 and 26 yards) and Curry (8 yards) -- but Luttrell and the Red Elephants were not finished, as Luttrell bought time and found Blackwell to knot the score at 27-27. Jaimes then consigned the Raiders (1-5, 0-1) to their fifth straight defeat -- none by more than three points.
Gainesville will travel to Dacula next week.
Habersham plays host to Lanier next week.