On a night when Athens Drive and Broughton took turns handing their opponents gifts, Broughton coughed up the final mistake, allowing Athens Drive to sneak away with a 28-27 win Thursday night at Broughton Stadium.
Broughton (1-1) had gone ahead late in the fourth quarter on an Athens Drive personal foul and ejection. That set up the Capitals to take a 27-22 lead with 4:10 remaining in the game.
That was plenty of time for Athens Drive (1-1) to mount a drive, and the desperate Jaguars advanced to Broughton’s 4-yard line before a pass fell incomplete with 1:43 to play.
Broughton took over possession, needing to run out the clock, but on second down Athens Drive defensive tackle Nate Gatling, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound junior, forced and recovered a fumble with a strip at the 2-yard line.
Never miss a local story.
“The quarterback tried to turn inside and I saw the ball,” Gatling said. “I spun toward the ball, put my hand on it and was able to strip it.
“We’re happy to get the win. Last week was a tough loss, but we kept working hard in practice.”
On first down following the fumble, Athens Drive running back Jamie Barnes pushed his way into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
In all, Broughton committed 14 penalties for 130 yards and Athens Drive 10 for 101. The many flags and lengthy huddles by the officials dragged the game out for 3 ½ hours. They either need a refresher course on the rules or were rehearsing for the day NFL cameras are on them.
“We fought hard for the win, and it’s an important win for our program,” Athens Drive coach Chris Martin said. “Broughton is an improved program and we’re an improved team.
“There were way too many mistakes that we have to work on. There were enough flags tonight to last the whole season.”
The two teams are still trying to establish themselves. Broughton in Cap 8 4A was coming off a 41-14 win over Cary, while Athens Drive in Southwest Wake 4A was trying to bounce back from a 54-21 loss to J.H. Rose.
While the teams benefited from their opponents’ errors, they sometimes averted disaster from their own miscues.
Broughton’s Devone Jackson turned a flub into 6 points when he bobbled the kickoff at his own 2-yard line and stepped back to the 1 before securing and pivoting. He then raced 99 yards for Broughton’s first touchdown, starting up the middle of the field and veering down the left sideline untouched to the end zone.
Barnes led Athens Drive with 146 yards total offense. He carried 19 times for 77 yards and caught five passes for 69 yards.