LITTLE RIVER — With an 8-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining, Academy stunned McGregor, 45-42, Friday night in an important District 11-3A Division I battle. The Bees (4-2, 1-1) were down by 11 points twice in the fourth quarter before pulling off the dramatic Homecoming win.
The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-1) led 42-31 with 5:38 left, and appeared to be in control. McGregor was in command of the line of scrimmage and taking time off the clock with a steady running game. However, a 64-yard touchdown pass from Bees quarterback Kollin Mraz to senior wide receiver Jaylin McWilliams gave Academy a chance. After holding McGregor around midfield on fourth-and-6 to force a punt with a little over one minute remaining, the Bees began a dramatic 85-yard game-winning drive.
Mraz completed a big 53-yard pass to Alex Lawton to put Academy in position. The game-winning score came on a play where Mraz ran around for several seconds, and then found Lawton near the right edge of the end zone. In his first start of the year, Mraz was 17-20 for 271 yards.
Early in the fourth quarter McGregor went up 36-25, but a 98-yard kickoff return by Academy returner Darion Franklin kept it close.
McGregor junior running back Chad Lorenz had 31 carries for 149 yards and three second-half touchdowns. However, the two quick Academy answers when McGregor scored in the fourth quarter shifted the momentum and kept the Bulldogs from putting the game away.
The late-second quarter featured big plays for both teams. For Academy, it was an interception return for a touchdown by McWilliams with 3:08 remaining until halftime. On a quick pass to the outside, the ball bounced off the McGregor receiver’s hand, and McWilliams grabbed the deflected ball and raced 45 yards untouched.
However, the extra-point kick after that touchdown was no good, and the Bees’ lead was 19-7. With 13 seconds remaining until halftime, McGregor narrowed the margin with a big 15-yard touchdown pass from McDaniel to Caleb Carmichael on fourth-and-8. That score capped a 14-play, 72-yard drive, which included overcoming two Academy sacks. McGregor kicker Kaiser Medina’s point-after kick following Carmichael’s snag on a seam route was true, and the score at the intermission was 19-14.
The weekly big game in one of the toughest 3A districts in the state continues next week, as McGregor hosts Troy.