Carlos Ayala has done it before so it didn’t come as a shock when his coaches asked him to do it again.
The Mountain View senior kicker nailed a 31-yard field goal on Senior Day as time expired to beat region rival Mill Creek 20-17 at Mountain View Stadium Friday.
“He’s money,” Mountain View coach Nick Bach said. “He’s a game day guy. He is a freak athlete when it comes to kicking. This is a guy who just started this kicking thing last season and now he is knocking down big ones to win games for us. We love him. He is absolutely fantastic.”
Ayala was in a similar position last season when the Bears played at Peachtree Ridge. The senior ended the game on a 47-yarder to give the Bears a win. This game-winner was a little more sweet though because it ended a five-year Mountain View (7-2, 3-2) losing streak to Mill Creek (6-3, 3-2).
“I felt like I was ready for it. I felt like I needed to do it for my team,” Ayala said. “The feeling is still amazing. For the coach to ice you on the other team to think you can’t make it. I kinda love that feeling of doubt and disbelief because I just want to make it even more.”
The Bears got in position to kick the game-winning field goal thanks to an incredible catch by wide receiver Malachi Carter. With Mountain View on their 38-yard line and under a minute and a half left in the game, the Georgia Tech-commit grabbed a pass off the back of a defender’s helmet and held on while falling to the ground. The 42-yard bomb took the Bears down to the Hawks 20.
“I just went up, gave him a little move inside, saw the ball and had to adjust. And it happened to be on the back of the defender’s helmet so I just had to get my hands inside and caught it on his helmet and I just didn’t let it go” Carter said.
The Hawks pushed the Bears back 10 yards on two straight run plays, but quarterback Matt Edwards connected with Carter for an 11-yard gain to bring the ball back to the 19-yard line. Carter’s ninth and final catch took him to 220 yards on the evening. An offsides penalty on Mill Creek moved the ball down to the 14 and made the kick a 31-yard attempt. Ayala nailed it and atoned for a missed 44-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve known Carlos since I was in like first grade. When kinda grew up together so I said, just let the last one go. We know what you can do. We know that when the game is on the line, you can do it. I knew he had it in him,” Carter said.
The Bears took the ball right down the field on the opening drive of the game. Running back Blake Carroll broke a 60-yard run to put the Bears in the red zone. Two plays later, Edwards hit Carter for a 11-yard touchdown – the duo’s first of two touchdown connections in the first half.
In an eventful 75 seconds in the second quarter, the teams combined to score three touchdowns. The Hawks tied the game at 7 on a 34-yard touchdown toss from Brady Longenecker to Austin Williams.
Two plays into the ensuing Bears’ possession, Edwards found Carter on a simple slant route. The senior wide receiver did the rest as he out-ran the Hawks’ defense for an 80-yard score. Edwards finished the night with 277 yards on 15-of-22 passing.
The Hawks had a response on the very next play from scrimmage as running back Uriah Leverette busted through the middle of the defensive line, breaking two tackles and blazing away for a 77-yard touchdown to re-tie the game.
Carroll, who plays linebacker for the Bears as well, punched the ball out of Leverette’s hand and recovered the football with 6:02 remaining in the first half. The senior’s second forced fumble and third Hawks turnover of the first half, led to a 19-yard field goal by Ayala to give the Mountain View a 17-14 lead at halftime.
The Hawks couldn’t capitalize off two Bears’ turnovers early in the third quarter. Mountain View’s Xyre Wilson muffed a punt inside his own 30, which turned into a North Gwinnett field goal to tie the game at 17.
Edwards was then intercepted by Hawks’ safety Jacob Allen, who returned the pick down to the Bears’ 9-yard line. However, after a series of penalties on both teams, kicker Alan Andrzejewski missed a 20-yard field goal that would have given the Hawks the lead.
The teams then traded punts for the next six possessions, until Ayala’s game-winner.
7-0, 9:36 – 11-yard touchdown from Matt Edwards to Malachi Carter
7-7, 9:34 – 34-yard touchdown pass from Brady Longenecker to Austin Williams
14-7, 8:43 – 80-yard touchdown pass from Matt Edwards to Malachi Carter
14-14, 8:21 – 77-yard touchdown run by Uriah Leverette
17-14, 3:57 – 19-yard field goal by Carlos Ayala
17-17, 7:09 – 32-yard field goal by Alan Andrzejewski
20-17, 0:00 – 31-yard field goal by Carlos Ayala
QB Brady Longenecker: 9/19, 69 yards, one touchdown, one interception
RB Uriah Leverette: 18 carries, 148 yards, one touchdown, two fumbles
WR Austin Williams: 3 catches, 46 yards, one touchdown
QB Matt Edwards: 15/22, 277 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions
RB Blake Carroll: 7 carries, 71 yards
WR Malachi Carter: 9 catches, 220 yards, two touchdowns
WR Thomas Stewart: 5 catches, 51 yards