December 13, 2011

Tide commit makes game-winning kick

When Buford High School fumbled on its first possession in overtime last Friday night, Calhoun kicker Adam Griffith knew he had a chance to make the game-winning field goal and carry his team to a state championship.

With the game tied at 24, Calhoun coach Hal Lamb wasted no time and sent his star kicker out on the Yellow Jackets' first play to attempt a 32-yard field goal and win the game.

"I wasn't really thinking much," Griffith said. "I just tried to forget that it was a big kick. I was trying to get in my head that it was just a kick, and I knew that I had to make this kick so we could win."

With ice in his veins, the Alabama commitment hit it perfectly through the uprights, and the celebration ensued in the Georgia Dome as Calhoun upset Buford to win the Georgia AA state title.

"I was mentally prepared," Griffith said. "The week before we were practicing, and everybody was saying it was going to come down to me, and I guess I was just getting ready mentally. I wasn't really nervous or anything. I was real confident in that kick."

In a game in which Buford was heavily favored, Griffith made a total of four field goals, including the game-winner, to lead the Yellow Jackets to the victory. He also made kicks from 29, 36 and 46 yards out and missed only a 42-yard attempt.

"Obviously, it was the best game I've ever played in," Griffith said. "I had a lot of fun, and we won state. It was exciting to make the kick that won the game."

Griffith may never have gotten the chance to kick the last field goal if it weren't for a play made by Buford linebacker Dillon Lee, another Crimson Tide commitment.

Trailing by a touchdown with a minute to go, Lee came off the edge as Calhoun attempted to punt the ball away. The punter mishandled the snap, and Lee's teammate knocked the ball away. The Rivals250 linebacker picked up the loose football and returned it 40 yards to tie the game and force overtime.

It looked like destiny was on Buford's side as it strived for a fifth consecutive state title, but a fumble by the Wolves and a field goal by Griffith changed the script.

After the game, Griffith talked with UA assistant coach Kirby Smart, who congratulated him on the kick and winning the state championship. The Tide commit is ready to start making those types of kicks in front of 101,000 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"I'm looking forward to kicking at Alabama," Griffith said. "I'm ready. All I can say is that I'll do my best, and, hopefully, I'll make it. I'm not going to be nervous. I'm not going to be cocky about it, but I just don't get nervous with kicks like that. It's just a field goal. That's all I'm thinking about."

Griffith plans to enroll over the summer and has a chance to compete for playing time as a freshman.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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