December 12, 2006
Homerville - The Clinch County football team beat Athens Academy 16-13 in the Georgia Dome Saturday to advance to the state championship, with the difference in the game being a 40-yard field goal.
It's the only field goal the Panthers have made all season.
Senior kicker Joel Varnadoe came on to the field with three seconds left in the 1st half of Saturday's state semifinal and connected on the long kick to give Clinch County a 10-7 lead.
Kicking a field goal is a rare task for the Panthers, as they've only tried a handful all year.
The team called a time-out before the play to decide whether to try a Hail Mary or attempt the long kick.
Varnadoe says it took a little convincing to persuade head coach Jim Dickerson to try the field goal.
The senior kicker says, "He came up to me and said, 'Joel, can you make this field goal? It'll be a 40-yarder,' and I kind of went, 'Sure, yeah, I'll try.' He said, 'I'm not going to put you in unless you can make it,' so I said, 'Ok, I'll make it.'"
"We knew Joel could do it," says Dickerson. "We've seen him do it in practice. We actually hadn't attempted many the whole season. But he hit it, hit it well, it would have been good from 50 yards."
Clinch County plays at Lincoln County for the Class-A state championship Saturday at 6pm.