Robert Akins might have a future as a prophet if this football coaching gig doesn't work out.
The veteran Ringgold coach told kicker Landon Eaker before Friday night's game at North Murray he would have an opportunity to win it. Eaker proved Akins right with a 43-yard field goal with a second remaining to give the Tigers (3-0) a comeback 31-28 win in their GHSA Region 6-AAA opener.
Despite the prediction, though, Akins couldn't watch the winning kick.
"I didn't look," said Akins, whose team trailed twice by 14 points. "I told my quarterback, Mason Parker, to tell me if he makes it, and I watched as his eyes got big and he said, 'Coach, he got it.'
"This is just an awesome win. God has really blessed me with a lot of great kids, and this group is right up there with the best. We made some adjustments at halftime, and we knew if we just played to our level we could get back in it."
The biggest adjustment was inserting a tight end and going to a zone blocking scheme, which led to 300 yards on the ground in the second half. Peyton Williams, who led the ground game with 233 yards on just 11 carries, kick-started the comeback with a 56-yard run that led to Kori Dumas' 4-yard touchdown run to cut the Mountaineers' lead to 21-14 late in the third quarter.
An Owen Hannah punt pinned Ringgold at its 1 early in the fourth, but Dumas ripped off 23 yards and Williams busted off a 77-yard touchdown run to tie it. North Murray (1-1, 0-1) regained the lead on a Seth Griffin 35-yard pass to Jadyn Rice with 2:55 left, but the Tigers needed just two plays — a Williams 35-yard run and Dumas' 30-yard run — to tie it.
Marcus Fortson intercepted a Griffin pass moments later and, despite two holding penalties, Ringgold set up Eaker for the winning kick.
"The perseverance really stood out tonight," Akins said. "Most of these seniors were on the 0-10 team (2019) and had to play through it, so they know how to grit things out and be tough."
Heritage 25, Christian Heritage 24: The Generals (2-0) trailed 24-13 in the fourth quarter before rallying for the nonregion win. Kaden Swope hit Tyler Cheatwood for a touchdown with 7:05 left to get within five and, after forcing a punt, took the lead on a perfectly executed 77-yard screen pass to Paxton McCrary.
Christian Heritage (1-3) moved inside the Heritage 30, but on fourth down quarterback Christian Thomas was stopped a half-yard short of a first down.
"They got pretty chippy with us and things got heated," Heritage coach E.K. Slaughter said. "The kids rallied around each other and played their guts out. We were close on a couple of screens earlier but just missed them. Paxton had a great run on the big one."
Solomon Locke had a 65-yard touchdown run on the Lions' first play of the game, but fumbles on consecutive drives led to an Anderson Britton 32-yard field goal and McCrary's 10-yard touchdown run. Christian Heritage regained the lead when Thomas hit Eli Thomason on a 9-yard touchdown pass to cap a 75-yard drive for a 14-13 halftime lead. That lead grew to eight when Thomas scored on a 1-yard sneak and, after a Locke interception and Carson Russell field goal, the Generals trailed 24-13 before rallying.
Northwest Whitfield 28, Chattooga 7: Owen Brooker had touchdown passes of 51 yards to Ray Morrison and 14 to Hudson Gray while also adding a 42-yard rushing touchdown to lead the Bruins (2-2) to the nonregion win. Adrian Reyes added a 7-yard touchdown run for Northwest, while Jaylon Johnson scored Chattooga's touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Nic Hester.
Trion 37, Howard 6: Rob Brown ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns, and Logan Eller ran for a score and threw for one to Conner Deparlier as the Bulldogs (3-0) defeated the Hustlin' Tigers in a game set up after Trion's scheduled game with Dade County was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns at Dade. Eller rushed for 92 yards and threw for 118 yards as the Bulldogs amassed 453 total yards.
LaFayette 32, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 0: Jacob Zwiger had four touchdown runs, but the real star for the Ramblers (2-1) was their defense, which has allowed 27 points this year. First-year coach Andy Scott praised the play of Ross Martin, Austin Tucker and Lane White.
Fannin County 35, Southeast Whitfield 6: David Mashburn passed for 177 yards and three touchdowns to lead Fannin (2-1). Jordan Trevino had 108 rushing yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run, for the Raiders (1-3).
Other area scores:
Calhoun 56, Ridgeland 7
Adairsville 55, Murray County 13
Rockmart 42, Coahulla Creek 7