St. Pius X stood toe to toe with defending champion Buford for four quarters during their GHSA Class AAA football state championship clash at the Georgia Dome on Dec. 14. Despite their efforts, though, the Golden Lions fell 10-3 to bring their remarkable 2012 season to a close.
The St. Pius faithful showed up at the Dome in droves, no doubt energized by their team making its first state title game appearance in 44 years.
In the end, the Wolves — in their 11th championship tilt in the past 13 seasons — made one more play than their counterparts.
That happened to be senior running back Dontravious Wilson’s 39-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 9:10 left to play in the fourth quarter.
Wilson, took the pitch from his quarterback and followed a parade of blockers down the right sideline to pay dirt. Buford’s beefy star runner had largely been kept in check by a stingy St. Pius defense — thanks to a brilliantly executed game plan orchestrated by defensive coordinator Jerry Stewart.
The Golden Lions, down 3-0 at halftime, answered Buford’s long field goal when junior kicker Thomas O’Leary booted a 47-yarder with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
St. Pius X, unable to finish solid drives by putting points on the board all night, couldn’t answer Wilson’s touchdown with one of their own.
After the Golden Lions defense forced Buford into a three-and-out with time winding down in the fourth, senior quarterback Jack Spear and company mounted one last offensive. St. Pius got as far as the Buford 42-yard line before the Wolves’ sack of Spear and consecutive incomplete pass plays.
A low snap on fourth down essentially closed out the Golden Lions’ championship hopes.
Buford burned the remaining 38 seconds off the clock to secure yet another GHSA title, leaving the St. Pius and its fan base to likely ponder what might have been and/or reflect on the program’s most successful season in ages.
The Wolves have proven in the last decade-plus to be a safe bet to make the Class 3-A final.
St. Pius, after having graduated a large stellar class the season before, made an improbable run to the Dome. The Golden Lions will again part ways with a group of senior standouts — who came within a few plays of delivering the school’s first football crown in nearly half a century.
The departure of the likes of tailback Ryan Braswell, Spear and two-platoon stalwarts Quincy Nioporte and David Marsau leaves a huge void in leadership and production. Should St. Pius find worthy replacements, who knows?