APEX — A game that wasn’t supposed to be up-for-grabs was clinched on a final heave to the end zone. When Gavin Locklear came down at the 1-yard line with an Apex interception, his Cougars had finally wrested away victory from visiting Athens Drive.
In a Friday night Tri-9 Conference contest that was equally wet and wild, Apex pulled off a shocking 27-24 upset of the Jaguars. Athens Drive (4-3, 3-1) suffered its first league loss while Apex (2-4, 1-3) won its first Tri-9 game.
A compelling back-and-forth final two minutes had those drenched patrons who remained on their feet. Defenders fell over again and again, struggling with the water-logged field.
“We’re finding a way to get better, and we got better tonight,” said first-year Apex coach Joe Kilby. “The way we’ve started in the conference hasn’t been easy, and we’ve had some hard knocks.”
Tommy Evanoff’s booming 45-yard field goal with 1:54 left put Athens Drive ahead 24-21.
With a 59-yard pass and a 12-yard run, Apex moved the ball deep into Athens’ territory in no time. Apex freshman quarterback Ian Boyd scored on an 11-yard run with 1:10 left, but the Cougars missed the extra point.
Athens Drive connected on a 34-yard pass on its first play after the kickoff, and the Jags entered Cougars’ territory.
The Jaguars faithful thought they had won the game on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 26.8 seconds left, but it was wiped out due to an illegal receiver downfield penalty.
With 12.4 seconds on the clock and the ball on the Apex 22, Athens quarterback Jason West had his pass picked off by Locklear to end the game.
Due to lightning, the game’s start was delayed by 1 hour, 48 minutes.
Apex took the game’s first lead on a dazzling 62-yard run Boyd. Boyd ended the game 5-of-12 passing for 105 yards and one touchdown, and added 139 yards rushing on 13 carries for two more touchdowns.
“Ian is a special young man, and right now he’s got 40 others rallying around him too,” Kilby said. “That was a team win tonight without a doubt.”
Athens Drive answered with a 10-play, 64-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Dominique Lynch. Lynch had 234 yards and one touchdown on 37 carries, but two fumbles.
The Jaguars later scored on a 57-yard touchdown pass from West to Henry Smith. Athens led 14-7 at the break. West was 14-of-23 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
Apex tied it up on a Rondell Gainous 7-yard rushing score in the third quarter, but the Jaguars regained the lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from West to Brad Bowling. Gainous had 83 yards on 19 carries.
Apex seemed doomed after a fourth-down stop, but an ensuing Athens Drive fumble gave the Cougars new life. Boyd found John Hernly for a 22-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-all with 5:01 to play.
Athens Drive will host Fuquay-Varina next week, while Apex is at Holly Springs.
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