DALZELL — Thomas Sumter Academy found itself in quite the hole in its varsity football game against Augusta Christian School on Friday at General Field.
Trailing 28-26, TSA started a drive at its own 2-yard line following a Lions punt with only 2:06 remaining in the game.
However, quarterback Eli Kessinger led Thomas Sumter on a 98-yard drive that he capped off with a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dante Linder as time expired to win the game 32-28.
“It was exhilarating,” Kessinger said of the play, “I closed my eyes because I didn’t want to see the ball hit the ground. When I looked up I saw that Dante had it.”
The play was met with great excitement from both the Thomas Sumter sideline and bleachers.
When asked what was going through his head during the final play Linder said, “I wasn’t thinking anything. I had dropped one earlier in the game, but I knew I had to make that play for the team.”
The Generals improved to 2-3 overall 1-1 in SCISA Region II-2A after falling to Spartanburg Christian 50-34 last week. ACS dropped to 1-3 overall in its region opener.
Thomas Sumter began the game with the kickoff and struck early on a 6-play, 72-yard drive. It was capped off with a 50-yard TD pass from Kessinger to Linder.
ACS tied the game on a 7-play, 64-yard drive that finished with a 6-yard TD pass from Sam Robertson running back Terrance Vandiver. A scoring run by running back Chase Hudson gave the Lions a 14-7 lead with 5:21 left in the second quarter.
The Generals responded by turning to their passing game for more major offensive production in the second quarter. Kessinger connected with wide receiver Zach Fugate for touchdown passes twice, once for 35 yards and the other for 16 yards to give Thomas Sumter a 20-14 halftime lead.
The Generals would not produce any points in the third quarter as they gathered 45 yards worth of penalties to stifle their productivity.
Augusta Christian found the end zone early with a quick 34-yard scramble from Robertson followed by a 2-yard rushing touchdown by backup quarterback Hugh Arthur to give ACS a 21-20 lead. The Lions followed that with a 37-yard Robertson touchdown pass to wide receiver Parker Wingard to take a 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter.’
The Generals cut the lead to 28-26 on a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Richard Huntley. It was set up by a 43-yard pass from Kessinger to Fugate. Huntley was ruled short of the goal line on a pass from Kessinger on the conversion attempt, leaving ACS up by two.
Augusta Christian looked to run the clock out, but the Generals forced them to punt thanks to two tackles for loss by defensive tackle Landon Rose.