Two football games remain on Harlem's schedule. Two victories would give the Bulldogs a 4-6 record, identical to the previous season.
Coach Jimmie Lewis' team would consider that a success, considering what they've been through the past year.
"We don't have the same numbers (as last year)," Harlem quarterback Zach Morris said, after the Bulldogs beat Butler 34-14 on Friday. "It will be an accomplishment if we do."
After rezoning for the opening of Grovetown High left the Bulldogs' roster thin, Harlem has endured a tough season. After an 0-5 start, Harlem has won two of its past three games and will try for its third victory Friday at Josey.
Harlem won its final three games of the 2008 season, and four of its last five. Beating the Eagles on Friday and Westside at home the following week would give Harlem an identical finish and its seniors a satisfactory send-off.
The Bulldogs kept the possibility alive with several big plays against Butler.
Harlem (2-6, 2-5 Region 3-AAAA) recovered a Butler fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, benefited from multiple short punts and scored on a fake field goal in the second half.
"We preached it all year, every day," Butler coach Ashley Harden said of special teams play. "It came back to bite us in the butt."
By the end of the first quarter, Morris had rushed for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Butler (0-8, 0-6) slowed the Harlem senior in the second half, but did not notice when Morris entered the game late in the third quarter to hold for what would have been a 19-yard field goal attempt. Morris received the snap, scrambled to his left and lobbed a pass to wide-open Tyler James in the back of the end zone.
Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said the Bulldogs worked on the play all week in practice, but thought they had gained enough for the first down in the previous play. The chains didn't move, and Lewis was forced to call time out when the clock started.
The players knew before they reached the sideline what play would be called.
"It just happened perfect," Morris said.
The touchdown gave Harlem a cushion after Butler had pulled within 20-14 on a 25-yard Clayton Johnson touchdown pass.
The game was close enough at that point to worry Lewis,
"I'm doing good now," Lewis said. "I was about to have a heart attack in the second half."
Before the game, Harlem honored members of its first football team, which played its first season in 1958. Players included E.G. Meybohm, Pierce Blanchard and Hardy King, who earned a scholarship to play football for the University of Georgia.
Henry Dukes, 74, was a senior at the University of Georgia when asked to lead Harlem's first team and coach spring practice.
The then-22-year-old Dukes led Harlem to a 5-3 record that inaugural season.
Each of the team's members were introduced on the track before the game, and Lewis gave each a framed photo of the 1958 team. A moment of silence was held for the three members of the team who have died.
Asked their favorite memory for the introductions, most of the former players listed Harlem's victory that first season over county rival Evans, which was also fielding its first football team.
Also before the game, Morris was voted homecoming king by his peers. Senior teammate Forrest Christian was runner-up.
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