Grayson, which is ranked in several national polls and No. 2 in Class AAAAA, survived a major scare on Friday.
The Rams held on to defeat South Gwinnett 27-16 in a battle of unbeaten teams. The game was much closer than the final score indicated.
“Yes, we got tested … would you expect anything else?” Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. “Those guys at South want a region championship just as much as we do.
“I think it’s good when your backs are against the wall near the end of a game and you come away with the win.”
Unranked South Gwinnett (3-1) had the momentum at the start of the fourth quarter. Trailing 20-16 with 11:17 left, quarterback Kent Rollins scrambled and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Chad Ross. The Grayson crowd was silent, but then erupted when it saw a yellow flag on the ground.
The touchdown, which gave South the lead, was nullified because of a holding penalty. It also ended the Comets’ chance for an upset.
“I can’t comment on the penalty, but that was obviously a huge swing in momentum,” South Gwinnett coach John Small said. “It took some fire away from us, but we’ve got to grow up as a football team and learn how to respond in those situations.
“But we’ll be OK. We played one of the best teams in the state and had them on the ropes. If we want another shot at them in the playoffs, we have to keep on winning.”
Grayson’s Ean Pemberton scored his second touchdown on a 7-yard run with 4:16 left to put the game away for the Rams (4-0). The 5-foot-4 Pemberton carried 37 times for 177 yards.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Ean,” Conn said. “What a great player he is … he’s just a winner. And our quarterback, Patrick Santry, played an incredible game with making checks at the line of scrimmage and throwing as well as he did.”
Santry, who is a first-year starter, completed all four of his attempts for 77 yards. His development is critical for Grayson, as defenses stack the line of scrimmage to focus on Pemberton.
“I’m proud of our offense for keeping their offense off the field,” Conn said. “They haven’t gotten a lot of credit this year. But those guys work hard. Sometimes your offense is your best defense.”