Northwest Guilford upset Garner 29-28 in a game that came down to the final minute.
Northwest Guilford quarterback Caleb Homol found wide receiver Tre’ Turner for a 30-yard touchdown pass to get within one point.
And instead of kicking the field goal, Northwest went for two points. Homol found tight end Justin Stone wide open in the end zone on a play action fake and sent Garner home in an early first round exit.
“We’ve practiced that play before and Stone is a playmaker,” Homol said. “I just threw it to him.”
Garner had led the entire second half until the final minute of the game.
“There was no excuse in what happened,” Garner coach Thurman Leach. “We knew No. 7 (Homol) was going to make a play, we just had to play defense. ... They executed and we didn’t.”
With the game tied at 21, Garner surprised Northwest with an onside kick to start the third quarter and recovered it.
Six plays later, the Trojans scored on a 25-yard pass from Brodie West to running back Collin Eaddy, who was wide open.
But it was not enough.
Northwest drove all the way down field in the final two minutes to set up the touchdown score.
Garner struggled to stop Northwest Guilford’s best player, Thomas Hennigan, who returned kicks, ran the ball, caught passes and even threw them. He finished with 243 all-purpose yards.
Many Trojan supporters, players and fans stood in disbelief for more than 15 minutes after the game ended.
The first-round loss is Garner’s first since 2004 (a 12-7 setback against Cary). The Trojans are 19-13 in the playoffs since that loss, having played in four regional champions and one state championship game during that 11-year span.
D. Clay Best contributed.