GOOSE CREEK, S.C. --- Goose Creek football coach Chuck Reedy says his team does its best work in the fourth quarter when the other team is just flat worn out.
North Augusta was the latest to find that out.
The Gators snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the final four minutes to pull out a 35-21 win over the Yellow Jackets on Friday at John Fulmer Field, scoring three touchdowns in less than a minute to send Goose Creek fans into a frenzy, and their coach too.
"That's what people don't understand sometimes," said Reedy while grinning from ear to ear and fielding hugs. "This is the way we play ... I think their quarterback was worn out. We got to him and forced some turnovers. This is one of the best comebacks I've been part of in 37 years of coaching at any level."
The win sets up a showdown with rival Berkeley in the Class AAAA Division II semifinals and gets the Gators (10-3) over two big humps. They've now won 10 games in a season and advanced past the second round for the first-time ever in both cases.
"Like (Berkeley coach) Jerry Brown said, you've got to go through Moncks Corner to get to Columbia," Reedy said. "We'll be there Friday night."
For about 44 minutes it looked like the Yellow Jackets were going to make a return trip to the Lowcountry, leading 21-14 with 4:01 left in the game. But the Jackets coughed it up at their own 26 with 3:35 left and Gators defensive lineman Terrell Rowland recovered the fumble.
Ranoy Hines capped the short scoring drive on third down with a 10-yard run around the right side to tie it at 21-21 with 1:51 left and then North Augusta coughed it up at the Gators 41 and T.J. Burrell was there to recover.
On the next play, Goose Creek's big fullback, Virgil Smalls, rambled 41 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:14 left. He led all rushers with 146 yards for the game.
The Yellow Jackets made one final mistake.
On North Augusta's second play after the ensuing kickoff, Burrell stepped in front of a Loranzo Hammonds pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
"People say those kids made mistakes, but without those kids that made mistakes we wouldn't have been where we are," North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said. "We wouldn't have been 11-2 without those kids."
Hammonds finished 23 of 35 for 170 yards and was sacked five times. He had a 9-yard touchdown pass to Shrine Bowl receiver Matt Hazel on North Augusta's first possession. Hazel had eight catches for 71 yards.
He tacked on a 1-yard scoring plunge to cap the Yellow Jackets' second drive, making it 14-0 with 4:57 left in the first half.
Goose Creek didn't score until 7:58 left in the third quarter on Mike Myers' 2-yard run.
But North Augusta's Vinny Miller returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a score to put North Augusta back on top 21-7.
Goose Creek came right back to score again when Smalls capped an 11-play, 73-yard drive with 3:34 left in the third quarter. Daniel Smith's extra point made it 21-14.
Linebacker Dontavia Reid had 13.5 tackles for Goose Creek, while linebacker L.J. Perry had 9.5 tackles for the Yellow Jackets.