NORTH AUGUSTA — Blake Busby lined up for one of the longest kicks of his career with only one thought on his mind.
“I just told myself I can do it,” Busby said.
Busby kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to give North Augusta a thrilling 12-10 win over Lakeside in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
With the Yellow Jackets down 10-9, they began their final drive at their own 30-yard line and a minute remaining.
Quarterback Trib Reece hit Busby on a 15-yard completion, followed by a 9-yard pass to Chaz Mealer. A 25-yard pass to Mealer brought the Yellow Jackets close to the 20-yard line with only a few seconds remaining.
“We know we have the offense to do it,” North Augusta coach Brian Thomas said. “It was a matter of making plays. It’s about perseverance and how you face adversity.”
Busby said it was one of his longer field goal attempts, even in pregame warmups. The hold was clean and the senior drilled it down the middle with room to spare.
As the football split the uprights, Busby high-stepped across the field with joy as teammates swarmed him.
“It felt really good,” Busby said. “I was just running around and so excited.”
The win overshadowed a dramatic Lakeside comeback in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Nick Patterson found BJ Raymond on a 45-yard pass to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Jalen Harrison to take a 10-9 lead with 5:25 to go.
Aside from a few big plays between Patterson and Raymond, the game was mostly a defensive battle with swarming secondaries. The Yellow Jackets took a 9-0 lead into halftime after a second-quarter touchdown run by Cam Matthews.
Reece went 17 for 29 for 154 yards. He hooked up with Mealer 11 times for 112 yards. Matthews led the rushing game for North Augusta with 79 yards, and Brandon Houston added 49. Raymond was electric with short passes turned into high yardage because of his speed. He caught four passes for 140 yards.
North Augusta (1-0) held Lakeside (0-1) to 78 rushing yards because of a strong defensive line. The Yellow Jackets kept Patterson uncomfortable in the pocket and forced two fumbles, one in a crucial spot deep in North Augusta territory.
“It went exactly the way we wanted it to go. We won,” Thomas said.