Sprayberry had three touchdowns wiped out by penalties in a game that saw North Paulding jump out to a 27-0 first half lead. The Yellow Jackets tightened up their defense and scored 22-unanswered points before coming up just short.
The Yellow Jackets scored the go-ahead touchdown twice in the final minutes of the game, only to have the points taken off the scoreboard because of penalties. D.J. Funderburg scored on an 11-yard run with 1:04 left in the game, but Sprayberry was called for holding.
Over 30 seconds later, Oran Davis connected with Niquay Mack for an 8-yard touchdown, but the Yellow Jackets were penalized for having an illegal player downfield. The game ended when Davis was sacked by North Paulding's Mason Dumas.
Without saying much, Sprayberry head coach Billy Shackelford said a lot about the reason for the Yellow Jackets' loss.
"I really don't want to comment about the officiating," Shackelford said, "so the only comment I have is that I have no comment. I'm proud of our kids for not quitting and for fighting until the very end, but good football teams can't make the kind of mistakes that we made tonight.
"We are dangerously close to being an undefeated football team. I really feel like we're undefeated against everyone else, but are winless against ourselves."
In the first half, the host Wolfpack, which improved to 4-0 on the season, moved the football almost at will against Sprayberry (1-3). North Paulding scored on its first two drives of the game and took a 14-0 lead with barely half of the first quarter gone.
Wolfpack quarterback Cain Campbell connected touchdown passes of 8 and 51 yards to Christian Conley to put Sprayberry in an early hole. Another touchdown pass from Campbell to Joel Brooks and a 12-yard run by Matthew Fossett early in the second quarter gave North Paulding a 27-0 advantage.
Funderburg finally put the Yellow Jackets on the scoreboard with his 30-yard run midway through the second quarter. Marcus Moses' extra point cut the North Paulding lead to 27-7.
On the Wolfpack's next possession, Myles Atkins scooped up a Conley fumble after a reception and raced 41 yards for a touchdown. Moses missed the extra point after Sprayberry was pushed back 15 yards on a penalty. Sprayberry cut the lead to 27-13 with 4:05 left in the first half.
On Sprayberry's first possession of the third quarter, Moses kicked a 28-yard field goal to cut the Wolfpack lead to 27-16. Prior to the field goal, though, the Yellow Jackets scored a touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Davis to Funderburg that was called back because of another penalty.
Defense and special teams accounted for Sprayberry's final score when Chayce Chambers blocked a North Paulding punt and scored from 15 yards out. The Yellow Jackets went for a 2-point conversion, but Davis was tackled before he reached the end zone.
North Paulding head coach Heath Webb said he had never seen a game quite like this one.
"I don't think I have ever seen a game where a team had three touchdowns called back by penalties," he admitted. I told our guys at halftime that Sprayberry is too good of a team to not make a comeback. I'm so proud of our seniors - the first senior class here at North Paulding."