Football: Cambridge tops Johns Creek in overtime thriller to take control of region

By Zach Shugan

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — In what many considered the most-anticipated and hyped game in the history of Cambridge football, including the team’s first and only head coach Craig Bennett, the Bears stood tall and continued their historic start to the 2021 season.

Class 6A’s No. 8 Cambridge went on the road Friday and defeated No. 9 Johns Creek, 48-47 in overtime, and it will undoubtedly go down as one of the state’s most entertaining games of the year. More importantly for the Bears, they kept their record perfect and took over first place in the Region 7-6A standings with only a few games remaining in the regular season.

At one point in the first half, Cambridge led 17-7 over Johns Creek. Then, the Gladiators took control and scored 27 unanswered points to take a 34-17 lead. The Bears fought back in the fourth quarter, making play after play to keep their hopes of winning alive. They scored 24 points in under 12 minutes, capped off by Connor Noone nailing a 44-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime.

Cambridge kicker Connor Noone (#12) kneels on the Bears’ sideline during the fourth quarter of their win over Johns Creek on Oct. 15, 2021. (Zach Shugan)

“I was definitely nervous, but I was really looking forward to it,” Noone said. “[After the kick] I just sprinted to my team knowing that we tied it and the momentum had shifted towards us.”

Cambridge started overtime on offense, and senior quarterback Zach Harris (286 passing yds, 4 TDs) put the Bears ahead by running for a touchdown. On the next series, Brooks Morley blocked Johns Creek’s extra-point attempt which would’ve sent the game to double overtime. Instead, the Bears ran wild on the field and celebrated the monumental win while the Gladiators, stunned by the gut-wrenching loss, watched in silence from their sideline.

“That was a hell of a high school football game,” Bennett said. “That’s all I can say, really. It was one of the best in my 25 years [as a coach].”

Cambridge quarterback Zach Harris celebrates after running for a touchdown in overtime of the Bears’ win over Johns Creek on Oct. 15, 2021. (Zach Shugan)

Prior to this year, Cambridge had never started 4-0. That milestone was crossed off the list, in addition to picking up a top-10 ranking for the first time following that fourth win. Everyone in the Bears’ locker room knows all this, but Bennett said they aren’t sitting around basking in the glory of what’s been a special season thus far.

“We have a special opportunity, and that’s what we talk about,” Bennett said. “We don’t want to talk about a special season yet because hopefully it’s far from over.”

The next team in the Bears’ path is Riverwood (6-1, 3-1), currently third in the region standings behind Cambridge and Johns Creek. The game, which will be played at Riverwood, is set to be televised by Peachtree TV, marking the second week in a row the Bears will play on televisions across the state.

Overshadowed by Cambridge’s comeback but not to be forgotten was the standout performance by Johns Creek senior Joshua Thompson, who hauled in six passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Gladiators quarterback Kyle Durham threw for 362 yards and five touchdowns in addition to rushing for a touchdown. Johns Creek (5-2, 3-1) hosts Centennial (1-6, 1-3) next week.

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