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Gladiators top Pats 31-23 in 5 OTs

ATHENS - For the kickers of both Clarke Central and Heritage, every kick must have seemed like a 65-yarder into the wind. After more than three hours of play, Gladiator quarterback John Wilson decided he would end the game himself.

After both team's kickers combined to miss nine kicks, including two missed extra points by the Gladiators, Wilson scrambled in from nine yards out in the fifth overtime to give his team a 31-23 victory.

Both Tyler Peoples of the Patriots and Noah Welch of the Gladiators missed three field goals each in overtime.

The Gladiators actually missed two field goals at the end of regulation, as Welch was no good from 37 yards but was given another chance after a personal foul was called on Heritage. When he tried again from 29 yards, Heritage's Reggie Juin registered his first of two blocked kicks to send the game to overtime.

Once the game went into overtime, Welch missed from 23 yards on the Gladiators' first possession.

Heritage opted to go for the game-winning field goal on first down, and Peoples was no good from 32 yards. Both kickers connected in the second overtime to tie the game at 23-23.

Two overtimes and three more missed kicks later, Wilson scrambled in on third down of the first possession of the fifth OT to give the Gladiators a 31-23 lead. Clarke Central's defense stopped the Pats on four straight pass plays in the game's final series, ending an emotionally draining game.

Heritage raced to an early 10-0 lead thanks to a trick play in which receiver Martell Jones threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Diondre Brooks.

The Gladiators fought back with a Welch field goal, a safety forced by Ryan Faust and a Rush Maxwell interception return for a touchdown.

Wilson played a solid ball game, completing 17 of 29 passes for 239 yards. He threw two interceptions and one touchdown pass. The touchdown pass, a 15-yarder to Dimitri Holmes, tied the game at 20-20 late in the fourth quarter.

The touchdown would have been the game-winner, but Juin blocked Welch's extra point attempt to send the game into overtime.