Wide-left agony, right-on redemption
Jared Guberman is a kicker, and he knows what that entails.
“As kickers know, game’s often come down to making you either a hero or a zero,” South Georgia Wildcats fan Edward Dyson said after the game.
But Guberman, a rookie in his first season as the South Georgia Wildcats regular kicker, experienced both sides of his position Saturday.
He missed a fourth-quarter point-after attempt that would have brought the Wildcats’ game against the Florida Firecats within six points, then made up for it by kicking a game winning extra point as time wound down to give South Georgia a dramatic 54-53 victory at Germain Arena.
“Our team worked so hard, they deserved to win this game,” Guberman said. “And I think we deserve the win, and I'm just glad I didn't ruin that for them.”
Guberman’s kicking accuracy (six for eight) puts the Wildcats in first place in the southern division of the af2’s American Conference. Guberman said he had kicked game-winning field goals in high school, but never a pressure cooker with the stakes so clearly defined.
“This is my first one,” he said. “That's what we dream of.”
Guberman was an All-American kicker for the NCAA Division II West Georgia Wolves before coming to the Wildcats. But he had a bumpy start after fighting with Andrew Levers to win the kicking duties. Against Florida, he made all but two of his PAT’s, but he had settled down just before the games end, making the final PAT with 47 seconds left to go in the game.
South Georgia, with two timeouts, mounted a desperation drive starting with 2:35 left at its five yard line and quickly moved the ball. When quarterback Darnell Kennedy found wide receiver Alvance Robinson for a 27-yard pass to Florida’s 18, the Wildcats were back in business. After another strike to wide receiver Antwan Savage for six yards to the Firecats 12, then a third straight completion to Robinson at the Florida one yard line. Darnell Kennedy tied the game up with a quarterback sneak with 47 seconds left.
This set up the game winning point after.
“He's going to make that kick, so we just put it in the best position for him to do it,” said Wildcats vice president Will Carter.
Indeed he did make that kick, and the defense got one last stop to end the game.
Cats win! I mean the South Georgia Wildcats win. Stay tuned for the rematch Saturday in Albany, Georgia.