No one was happier than Trevor Gear to see Eagle’s Landing Christian come back to win the Class A private-school championship.
The senior had a costly fumble in the third quarter to set up the tying touchdown, but in the end he was the guy walking off the field with the championship trophy.
Gear rushed for a game-high 102 yards and one touchdown to help No. 1-ranked Eagle’s Landing Christian defeat No. 3 Fellowship Christian 34-27 in double overtime to claim its second straight state championship at the Georgia Dome.
It was the third state championship for Eagle’s Landing Christian (14-0) and extended the Chargers’ winning streak to 23 games. Fellowship Christian (13-1) lost in its first trip to the championship game.
“Earlier in the game I fumbled and I had to do that for my team,” Gear said, wearing his championship hat. “We battled through a lot of adversity and it kept going back and forth.”
Fellowship Christian took the lead with 2:08 left in the game on Merrick Haigler’s 4-yard run, but Eagle’s Landing Christian drove 77 yards and sent the game to overtime on Alex Usry’s 30-yard field goal with six seconds remaining.
Both teams kicked field goals in the first overtime – Fellowship Christian a 30-yarder from Garrett Depew and ELCA a 27-yarder from Alex Usry.
ELCA took the lead by pounding the ball on the ground behind Josh Mays, who scored on a 1-yard run. Fellowship Christian failed to score on its possession and the game ended when quarterback Jack Hardin’s fourth-down pass was incomplete.
“We been in this situation before and that’s happened to us often this season,” Gear said. “We just keep pounding and pounding and did what we can do to execute.”
ELCA had a 14-7 lead at intermission thanks to a couple of big plays.
The Chargers scored first on a 21-yard run by Gear, who took a handoff and headed around the right end for a touchdown.
Fellowship Christian came back to tie the game on a 68-yard drive that was completed by Jack Hardin’s 2-yard run.
ELCA regained the lead on the next play. Justin Menard fielded the kickoff as it was about to sail out of bounds at the 10 and ran down the sideline for a 90-yard touchdown.
Fellowship tied the game with 7:41 left in the third period, a score set up by Gear’s fumble. He was stripped on the play by Ryan Reid and Ethan Minkert recovered. The Paladins scored a run by Hardin, who was stopped up the middle, but bounced outside and ran 19 yards for a touchdown, clipping the pylon as he dove into the end zone.
Fellowship took a 17-14 lead when Depew kicked a 25-yard field goal that barely cleared the bar. But ELCA responded with an 80-yard drive that was completed when Jelan Pearson got free for a 45-yard touchdown run to put the Chargers ahead 21-17 and set up the wild finish.
“I’m so happy. We worked hard for this and we finally got it,” Gear said.
Eagle’s Landing had 297 total yards, 219 on the ground. In addition to Gear’s 102 yards, the Chargers got 60 yards rushing from Pearson and 27 from Mays. Quarterback Brayden Rush complete 7 of 16 for 78 yards and Tre Douglas caught six of them for 69 yards.
Fellowship Christian totaled 346 yards, 202 on the ground, and kept the ball for 33:04, more than twice as long as ELCA. Hardin completed 14 of 21 passes for 144 yards and ran 20 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Andrew Johnson rushed 20 times for 86 yards.
George Shockley led the ELCA defense with 10 tackles and John Youngblood had nine. Caleb Hudgins had an interception.
Fellowship’s defense got 10 tackles and an interception from Trey Robinson and an interceptions from Ryan Reid.