Cole Fowble's 32-yard field goal in the final seconds did more than earn his Heathwood Hall team bragging rights in its rivalry with Hammond.
The 10-7 victory allowed the Highlanders to win the SCISA Class 3A Region 3 title and gain home-field advantage for the playoffs. They also snapped defending state champion Hammond's win-streak at 15 and dealt the Skyhawks their first loss at Edens Stadium since 2005.
"I cannot say enough about Cole Fowble," Heathwood Hall coach Rip Blackstone said. "That's a tough job when you're out there by yourself with the game on the line like that."
The Highlanders (9-0, 3-0) used their best drive of the game to get into range for Fowble.
With the game tied at 7 with a minute remaining, Hammond was forced to punt. Heathwood took possession at its 36, and a 30-yard connection between quarterback Mac Whalen and his twin brother, Morgan, put the Highlanders within striking distance.
"I told Morgan to swing that corner, and I was going to get it to him, and he did," Mac Whalen said. The twins connected again on an 18-yarder before turning the game over to Fowble with 8.4 seconds to go.
"I knew Cole was going to drill it," Whalen said. "He's the best kicker in the state."
Fowble was not the only hero for Heathwood.
Blackstone credited coordinator Brad Coleman's defense with putting the Highlanders in position to win the big game.
Hammond (8-1, 2-1) was averaging 40 points and 367 yards per game entering the contest. The Skyhawks wound up with 313 yards, but turnovers were costly
The Highlanders pressured Hammond quarterback Dave Nidiffer early and often, and they produced three first-half takeaways.
In a scoreless game, the Skyhawks started their first possession of the second quarter at their 18. On second-and-10, junior Les Cotter exploited a seam in Heathwood Hall's defense for a 38-yard gain. A roughing-the-passer call tacked on 15 yards to set up the Skyhawks with first-and-10 at the Highlander 29.
Two plays later, Nidiffer looked for Aaron Walters deep in the corner of the end zone but instead was intercepted by Joey English.
The Skyhawks' next drive ended with Heathwood's Will Cloyd forcing and recovering a fumble.
Later, as the Skyhawks tried to get on the board before the half expired, Nidiffer was intercepted by Heathwood's interceptions leader, Chris Barton, in the end zone.
In the first half, Hammond managed 130 yards of offense; Heathwood struggled to move the ball as well, gaining 75 yards.
Hammond came out of halftime fiercely. The Skyhawks forced a three-and-out on the Highlanders' opening possession, then drove 79 yards on five plays to get on the board when Nidiffer hit Walters for a 38-yard score.
Two possessions later, Heathwood took over at the Hammond 35 after its third interception of the night, the Highlanders drove to the 6 before losing a fumble.
On next possession, Whalen completed a 47-yard drive with a 10-yard sneak for the score with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
"Our defense played well, and I felt like they did a really good job of limiting Whalen's scramble. We just couldn't keep them off the board," Hammond coach Kimrey said.
"I felt like our kids fought and just got beat by a team that was better than us tonight."
Heathwood Hall 0 0 7 3-10
Hammond 0 0 7 0-7
Ham - Aaron Walters 38 pass from David Nidiffer (kick), 9:50.
HH - Mac Whalen 10 run (Cole Fowble kick); :49.7
HH - Cole Fowble 32 field goal, :04.6.
First downs 12 14
Rushes-yards 31-144 34-174
Passing 9-100 12-139
Comp-Att-Int 9-21-1 12-28-3
Punts-avg. 7-39 5-32
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-35 3-15
RUSHING: Heathwood Hall, Mac Whalen 21-76. Hammon, Beach Corontzes 15-92.
PASSING: Heathwood Hall, Mac Whalen 9-21-1 100. Hammond, Dave Nidiffer 12-28-3 139.
RECEIVING: Heathwood Hall, Morgan Whalen 4-66. Hammond, Aaron Walters 6-86.