Goose Creek — This roll of the dice certainly worked out better than Chris Candor’s first one this season.
Goose Creek High School fullback Evan Ulery made sure of it.
Ulery plowed ahead on a two-point try with 39 seconds left to provide the decisive points in Goose Creek’s 50-49 victory over Hillcrest High School on Friday night at John Fulmer Field in a Division I-AAAA state quarterfinal.
Candor, the Gators’ first-year coach, didn’t let bad memories of a Week 2 heartbreaker against Ridge View in the same situation keep him from gambling against Hillcrest.
“I felt like we had worn them down a good bit,” Candor said. “They were playing kids both ways. I didn’t think we could stop them from 10 yards out (in overtime), so we rolled the dice. We wanted to try and win it right there.”
The Gators had to survive more drama after Hillcrest drove to the Goose Creek 12-yard line for a potential game-winning field goal with four seconds left. Gustavo Martinez, who had been perfect on seven extra points, misfired on the 29-yarder, setting off a rowdy celebration on the home sideline.
“We always say we just want to score one more point than the other team,” Candor said. “We found a way to get one more, 50-49. It’s a great feeling. There is something special about this team. They don’t quit. They don’t give up. We don’t always play great football, but we find a way to win each and every week.”
The win was the eighth straight for the Gators (9-3), who travel to Fort Dorchester on Friday for the state semi-final. The Patriots handed Goose Creek its last loss, 20-13, on Sept. 18.
“We’ll travel over there and lay it all on the line one more time,” Candor said.
Hillcrest ended the season 10-3.
The Gators needed a 2-point try earlier in the fourth quarter just to tie the game, 42-42, with 4:30 left.
A bobbled snap after a touchdown in the third quarter left the Gators chasing that point later, and Goose Creek fullback Leandre Legree converted that one.
Quendarius Jefferson gave Hillcrest a 49-42 lead with 3:28 left on a 5-yard run.
The Gators marched 58 yards in eight plays, scoring on Ulery’s 1-yard plunge with 39 seconds left. Ulery encountered little resistance on the 2-point try.
“I saw all daylight,” Ulery said. “They all chased after Dominique (Jefferson).”
Ulery and Jefferson, the quarterback, finished with 127 yards apiece to power Goose Creek to 396 yards on the ground. Jefferson scored twice, on runs of 9 and 47 yards in the second half. He also had a 41-yard touchdown pass to Dijon Profit in the first half.
Legree added 75 yards on the ground and scored three times.
“We try to make it exciting each and every week.,” Candor said. “They’re a heckuva football team on film and even better in person. We just found a way to pull it out.”
Rams quarterback Collin Sneed was 21 of 27 for 232 yards and engineered the last drive with two big passes, one to receiver Brian Spurgeon on third and 25. He also ran for 104 yards and scored once. Spurgeon made 11 grabs for 146 yards.
Neither team managed to slow the other in the first half, as Hillcrest built a 28-21 halftime lead. The Gators threw an interception in the end zone in the closing seconds of the second quarter to head to the locker room down a score.
(Rob Gantt/ The Gazette) Goose Creek quarterback Dominique Jefferson (8) gains positive yardage up the middle before being tackled by Hillcrest's Parker Nichols (32).×