After Evans' comeback came up short in Friday night's 38-31 loss to Effingham County, Knights coach Marty Jackson acknowledged what football fans throughout Columbia County already knew.
Regardless of the result, the newest installment in the rivalry between Lakeside and Evans will have had major playoff implications.
Now, it's win or go home.
"Both us and Lakeside control our own destiny," Jackson said. "Whoever gets it done Friday night will have a chance to make the playoffs.
"Our guys are hurting right now, but they're going to have to regroup and get ready to play a whale of a ball game, because Lakeside's played one of the toughest schedules in the state."
The Knights (5-3, 2-2 Region 2B-AAAA) face the Panthers (3-5, 2-2 Region 2B-AAAA) at Evans. The winner gets a spot in a region play-in game, likely against the South division's No. 2 seed, while the loser misses out.
Jackson was quick to note that a win over Effingham County would not have guaranteed the Knights anything. It would, however, have kept them in the race for the region title.
Evans lost three fumbles and committed several penalties at critical junctures in the loss.
A 10-minute stretch in the first half that included two Evans fumbles completely reversed the momentum.
Evans had started lightning-fast out of the gates. The Knights took a 14-0 lead with the help of a 62-yard touchdown scamper by Myles McDavid on an end-around on their second play from scrimmage.
Effingham then turned the tables, scoring 28 consecutive points. Running back Michael Hamilton capped the run with 5:49 left in the second quarter, crashing through the line from a yard out for his second touchdown.
Hamilton carried 26 times for 148 yards, most of it coming after initial contact.
Down 28-17 at halftime after Jamie Galvin's 34-yard field goal, Evans produced nearly perfect execution on a halfback pass from McDavid late in the third quarter. He threw to a wide-open Trevor Foreman, but the senior couldn't hang on.
The Knights lost their third fumble on the next play.
The Rebels added a 34-yard field goal by Joe Thompson at the end of the third quarter, but Evans responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive. It was capped by Glenn Cassedy's 13-yard touchdown pass to Foreman that got the Knights within seven at 31-24.
On the ensuing drive, Evans alternated stops for a loss with back-breaking penalties. They helped the Rebels produce a scoring drive.
With only 3:27 to go, Evans went into full passing mode. It worked, as Cassedy completed passes of 19, 28 and 28 yards to three different receivers to reach the Effingham 3-yard line.
Cassedy's 3-yard touchdown run three plays later -- his second rushing touchdown -- brought Evans back within seven with 1:50 remaining. It was as close as the Knights would get, as Effingham came up with the ball on an onside kick and ran out the clock.
Wolfpack tame Mustangs
Greenbrier went up early and pitched a shutout, defeating South Effingham 10-0.
The Wolfpack moved to 2-2 in Region 2B-AAAA thanks to a defense that has allowed just 20 points in its past three contests.
Bradley Hodge got the scoring started with a 42-yard field goal. Jahvon Hardrick scored from 6 yards out later in the first quarter to complete the scoring.
Bulldogs' offense gets in gear in win
Mikey McIntire scored three touchdowns and Harlem put up its highest point total of the season in a 33-13 win over Westside.
In earning their second victory, the Bulldogs scored in a variety of ways. Alonzo Hill had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, while Taylor Camp returned an interception 73 yards for a score.
McIntire scored on runs of 7, 6 and 20 yards.
Musketeers down Warriors
Grovetown fell behind big before halftime and couldn't manage a comeback in a 31-7 defeat to Richmond Academy.
Senior running back D.J. Tyson ran for more than 100 yards for the third consecutive game, finishing with 101 on 18 carries.
He scored the team's lone touchdown on a 5-yard run in the third quarter.
Richmond Academy's balanced offense (168 yards rushing against 149 yards passing) outgained Grovetown 317-222.
The defeat could prove costly in the Warriors' chase for their first state playoff berth.
Grovetown faces Region 3-AAA North powerhouse Thomson on Friday. A loss would mean that the Warriors would enter a play-in game against South division No. 2 seed Washington County, one of the area's top teams.
Lions dominate in shutout victory
Matt Rogers returned an interception for a touchdown to highlight Augusta Christian's first shutout of the season, a 34-0 victory over Pinewood Prep.
The Lions rushed for 255 yards, led by Thomas Banks' 78 yards on just seven carries.
Nick Cerasuolo scored on runs of 1 and 46 yards. Christian Croft scored on a 1-yard run, while Bryson Ashmore completed the scoring with a 45-yard touchdown run.
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