MT. AIRY — Habersham Central could not hold three separate leads, including one on the second half, and saw its playoff hopes come to a shocking end Friday night in a gut-wrenching 41-40 loss to Winder-Barrow in a critical Region 8-6A contest at Raider Stadium.
The Bulldoggs sealed the win by blocking an extra point with just 59 seconds left that would have tied the game.
The loss for the Raiders (3-6, 0-4 Region 8-6A) eliminated them from the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Bulldoggs (3-6, 2-2) clinched their first playoffs since 2017 with the victory.
It was a battle of senior quarterbacks.
Senior Habersham Central quarterback Ryte Woodruff had a huge game rushing for 222 yards and four touchdowns, all in the second half, to go with 107 yards passing, including a 31-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Pickett. But after building a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, the Raiders could not hold it.
That’s because they could not slow down senior Bulldoggs’ signal-caller Jhaydon Sullivan.
Sullivan finished with 195 yards and four scores on the ground and added 166 through the air. Winder-Barrow battled back to tie the game at 13 by halftime on a pair of touchdown runs by Sullivan.
The teams traded the lead four times in the third quarter. Habersham reclaimed the lead 19-13 early in the third quarter on Woodruff’s first rushing TD only to have Sullivan take it back with a touchdown run for a 20-19 lead. Woodruff answered right back with a 58-yard scamper and a 2-point run to make it 27-20. The Bulldoggs tied it at 27 late in the third quarter and took a 34-27 lead when Sullivan scored on the final play of the period.
Woodruff tied the game with his third rushing score of the half early in the fourth quarter but Winder’s J.C. Green gave the Bulldoggs a 41-34 lead with 7:41 left.
After the two teams traded punts, Habersham looked ready to send it to overtime on Woodruff’s 11-yard TD run. But the Bulldoggs blocked the extra point attempt and then ran out the final 59 seconds to preserve the win.