WINDER — Despite it being the region-opener, it was almost a must-win scenario for Habersham Central on Friday night against Winder-Barrow.
The Raiders overcame two deficits and scored 13 points in the final four minutes to steal a 27-21 win over the Bulldoggs, getting a 4-yard touchdown run from Joshua Pickett with just 33 seconds left.
The sequence began the Bulldoggs leading 21-14 and looking to add on with just over eight minutes left lining up for a field goal. But the Raiders blocked it and used that to jumpstart a 71-yard drive in four minutes to tie the game at 21 on a 12-yard Pickett touchdown run.
The Habersham defense then did its part stopping the Bulldoggs and setting up a short drive that Pickett capped for the game-winner.
“The kids found a way,” Habersham Central coach Benji Harrison said. “We didn’t beat ourselves this week.”
The win for the Raiders (3-2, 1-0 Region 8-6A) will loom large, and necessary, when taken with the fact that next week they start the gauntlett of Buford, Dacula, and Lanier in back-to-back-to-back weeks with no break.
They also had come in with a two-game losing streak and desperately needed positive momentum.
“I felt it was a game we had to win, almost like a play-in game for the playoffs,” Harrison said. “But we feel we can play with anybody. We just needed to stop beating ourselves. This was a huge win and now we’ll get ready for the next one.”
The Raiders piled up 302 total yards with Pickett picking 90 on 19 carries to go with four touchdowns. Jackson Clouatre was held to just 36 yards rushing. Pickett also had his best day of the season through the air going 14-of-23 for 191 yards, though he was picked off three times.
But the Habersham defense forced four turnovers and withstood a 301 yard rushing game from the Bulldoggs.