GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Chestatee's Shaun Conley will remember his final game at War Eagle Stadium.
His War Eagles scored with 2 minutes left, and the defense held on to beat East Forsyth 32-28 on Friday.
“This one was fun. I’m proud of our kids; they played hard,” Conley said. “We talked to them about emptying the tank, and they did tonight. I’m proud of them.”
Conley announced his retirement before the game and will hang up the whistle at the end of the season. He’s spent the last seven years at the helm of the War Eagle football program.
Conley’s voice cracked as he took a moment to quickly look back at his time at Chestatee and his 31 years coaching football.
“This one is a little bittersweet,” he said. “31 years is a long time. It’s been fun. This place will always be special. For it to be the last one here, that’s a good way to go out.”
Indeed it was as his War Eagles controlled the entire first half, going up 19-0 in the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Kermode had himself a night, tossing four touchdowns while racking up 303 passing yards.
“Josh had a good night tonight,” Conley said. “He played kind of on a roller coaster this year, but he played well tonight.”
His main target was senior Christian Jarrard, who hauled in 10 catches for 147 yards and three TDs, including the first score of the game, an 80-yard reception from Kermode with 6:17 to go in the opening quarter and a 6-0 lead.
The War Eagles added scores on a Kermode 3-yard TD run early in the second quarter and struck again with 4:54 left in the first half on a 17-yard laser to Christian Vargas to go up 19-0.
The Broncos first touchdown came late in the first half — an 18-yard pass from Brock Szakacs (15-of-34, 171 yards passing and TD) to Troy Brumbalow, cutting the War Eagles’ lead to 19-7.
Brumbalow finished the night with five catches for 92 yards and touchdown. Brandon Peoples led the Broncos’ rushing attack with 23 carries for 100 yards.
The Broncos late touchdown in the second quarter was the beginning of the comeback.
In the second half, Sam Gulchuck pounced on a Chestatee fumble at the War Eagle 16-yard line but had to settle for a Luke Droegenmueller 29-yard field goal. Later on, Will Moffit darted in for a 2-yard TD to cut the lead to 19-17, and Droegemueller nailed another field goal, this time from 27 yards, to give the Broncos a 20-19 lead.
Then Chestatee pulled out some trickery.
Running the “no one but the quarterback, center and Beau Edwards knew what was going on” trick play. It went for 40 yards down to the EaFo 9-yard line. A play later, Kermode connected with Jarrard for the go-ahead TD, 25-20, with 9:02 left.
“We practice that and we’ve hit it about three times since we’ve been doing it. It was good timing and were able to execute it,” Conley said.
But the Broncos battle back, charging 80 yards, eating five minutes off the clock. Moffit capped it with a 5-yard TD run. The successful reverse-pass play for the 2-point conversion gave the Broncos a 28-25 advantage with 4:01 to go.
However, it was the War Eagles that got the last laugh on their final scoring driving as Kermode lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone that Christian Vargas jogged under for the 21-yard winning score.
“Hats off to our kids for keeping on playing,” Conley said. “We struggled early running the ball and were able to run toward the end. That’s just a compliment to our kids. Josh made good decision and took care of the ball. We did what we were supposed to do.”
Chestatee will close out the season on the road at Walnut Grove. East Forsyth plays host to North Hall next week.