The South Georgia Noles fought for their Gridiron Developmental Football League playoff lives on Saturday night against the Georgia Jets. But in the fourth quarter, of what was believed to be a tied game at seven, a different type of fighting broke out.
A dispute about the Georgia Jets seventh point (the extra point) led to a fight between an official and Jets players. Officials decided two quarters after the extra point kick had been ruled successful that it was no good. The delayed decision gave the Noles a gift in the form of a one point lead late in the game, but sent the Jets players over the edge.
Physical altercations ensued between Jets players and officials resulting in half the officiating crew leaving the stadium. Without a complete officiating staff, the game was put on hold without a winner.
"We all just thought this is something you see on TV," Noles head coach Ivory Williams said.
However, the madness was only beginning. During a conference call with the league, the coaches and League President Charles Thompson weighed the options for finishing the game. At one point, the game was to be decided by a coin toss, but no one wanted to leave the game up to chance.
"We had already lost one coin tossâ|we didn't want to take another chance," Williams said.
So the league decided to hold a rematch between the two teams in Dawson next Saturday. Coach Williams was pleased with that decision, and also that none of his players got caught up in the melee.
"I'm just blessed that we kept our cool and it wasn't a brawl between two teams...that could've got real ugly. I don't want anyone to think that our team is a bunch of bad guys because it didn't involve our team," Williams said.
In a phone interview on Sunday, GDFL President Charles Thompson said a game re-do was the right thing to do.
"We didn't want to end the game on a sour note or a missed callâ|in all fairness we thought it was our duty to hold a rematch. I want to apologize to the fans because they deserve a better outcome and they will see it next Saturday," Thompson said.
Thompson also added that the league's Vice President of Operations Terrell Parham will approve this week's officiating crew. The league plans to pull officials from Florida, or Macon to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
The Noles-Jets first round rematch is set for 7:30 pm on Saturday at Terrell County High School Stadium in Dawson.