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Griffin 32, Sandy Creek 26

No team from Fayette County will be playing for a state football title in 2013.

The Sandy Creek Patriots’ quest for a fourth championship in five years came to an end Friday night at the Battlefield in Tyrone, as the Griffin Bears overcame a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to clinch a AAAA semifinal berth with a 32-26 win.

Sandy Creek took a 26-17 lead with 7:31 to play when Justin Sumpter made a spectacular jump-ball touchdown catch in the end zone on fourth-and-15 from the Griffin 19. But the Bears scored in less than 90 seconds to cut the lead to two, and after a punt the visitors put together a six-play drive to move 66 yards in 2:40 for the game-winning score.

Griffin led 17-14 at halftime because of three Sandy Creek turnovers. The Patriots took the opening kickoff and drove inside the Bears’ 10 but fumbled. After the teams traded punts, Sandy Creek defensive end Broderick Allen tipped a pass and intercepted it, returning it to the Bears’ 29. But two plays later a Griffin defender picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Eric Swinney scored his second touchdown of the game midway through the second quarter to give the Patriots their first lead of the game. On the next possession the Bears faced fourth-and-29 but got a huge break by recovering a fumbled punt at the Patriots’ 17. Griffin scored on a quarterback keeper with 20 seconds to go before halftime to retake the lead.

Sandy Creek defensive back Gabriel Arnold intercepted three passes in the third quarter, killing every Griffin possession in the period. The first two led to field goals by Lorenzo Broadwater, and the third one began a drive that lasted well into the fourth quarter and was capped off by Sumpter’s touchdown pass from Cole Garvin for the Patriots’ biggest lead of the night, setting the stage for Griffin’s dramatic comeback.

The Patriots concluded their 2013 season with a 11-1-1 record.

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