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Football: Lucky bounce lifts Titans to Gate win

Joey Woods threw up a prayer. Jr. Napoleon answered it.

Napoleon caught a 44-yard pass off a deflection with 6:48

remaining Friday for the decisive touchdown in Golden Gate's 21-19

victory over Class 3A, District 14 rival Palmetto Ridge in the

second annual Battle for the Gate.

Woods threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third score, but

his most spectacular play came midway through the fourth


Golden Gate (4-5, 1-3 district) was protecting a 14-11 lead when

the Titans gambled with a long pass. With Palmetto Ridge defenders

draped all over him, Woods threw the ball as far as he could just

before going down.

The pass bounced off Golden Gate receiver J.D. Woods before

ending up in the hands of Napoleon, who caught the ball inside the

5-yard line and raced into the end zone.

Palmetto Ridge (3-6, 0-4) didn't give up.

After fumbling at Golden Gate's 12-yard line on its next

possession, the Bears came back and reached the end zone on Trey

Carter's 8-yard touchdown pass to Zach Zaban. Carter found Zaban

again for a two-point conversion pass that cut the lead to two

points with 2:36 remaining.

But an offsides penalty against Palmetto Ridge on a fourth-and-1

play allowed Golden Gate to run out the clock and celebrate its

second straight victory in this rivalry.

Golden Gate withstood a two-touchdown performance by Carter and

a spectacular effort by Tremaine Dale, who had one touchdown catch

and two interceptions. Golden Gate's Nickson Giles rushed for 55

yards to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

The second edition of this rivalry between new schools had both

teams battling nerves early on. Neither team managed to pick up a

first down until the seventh series off the game.

Golden Gate's first three possessions ended with a blocked punt

and two fumbles, allowing Palmetto Ridge to begin each of its first

three series inside the Titans' 40-yard line. But the Bears only

came away with three points, as Zaban kicked a 27-yard field goal

after Justin Martin returned a fumble to the Golden Gate 18.

Missed opportunities would continue to haunt Palmetto Ridge

throughout the first half. Golden Gate took a 7-3 lead on Joey

Woods' 23-yard pass to Jonathan Stevenson with 40.9 seconds left in

the first quarter, then Palmetto Ridge started killing itself with


Palmetto Ridge appeared to force a punt when Chad Austile sacked

Joey Woods early in the second quarter, but a late hit by one of

Austile's teammates kept the drive alive. On the very next play,

Joey Woods attempted a quarterback sneak, found an opening and

streaked down the left sideline for a 23-yard touchdown that

extended the Titans' lead to 14-3.

The Bears squandered a couple of chances to close the gap late

in the first half.

A 13-play, 63-yard drive ended with no points when Golden Gate's

defense stopped Austile on two plays from inside the 2-yard


Palmetto Ridge regained the momentum on a remarkable

interception by Dale, whose ensuing 23-yard return gave the Bears a

first down at the Golden Gate 17.

On the next play, Carter found Dale for an apparent touchdown

pass into the right corner of the end zone.

But a holding penalty wiped out the score, then an

unsportsmanlike conduct call pushed the Bears all the way back to

the Golden Gate 46. Two long completions to Zaban put Palmetto

Ridge in field-goal range, but a heavy rush prevented Zaban from

making his 27-yard attempt.

Palmetto Ridge finally cashed in on an opportunity midway

through the third quarter. After taking a high snap deep in his own

territory, Golden Gate punter Jeff David tried to run for a first

down instead of heading to the end zone for an intentional safety.

Palmetto Ridge tackled David at the 7-yard line to set up Carter's

5-yard touchdown pass to Dale.

© 2005 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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