By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Travis Custis had 34 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns, two in a second half, to power Lovejoy (2-1) to a 43-24 win over Alpharetta, Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium in Lovejoy.
The game was close throughout. Entering the fourth quarter, Lovejoy led 29-24, after Alpharetta (1-2) scored with less than a minute left in the third on a 6-yard run by Julian Macon. But Lovejoy answered as seven plays into the Wildcats’ ensuing drive, Alejandro Bennefield connected with Zane Fields over the middle for a 34-yard catch and run that pushed the lead to 36-24 with 9 minutes left in the contest.
Bennefield and Fields took advantage of a Raider defense that was crowding the line of scrimmage in an attempt to slow down Custis. Lovejoy’s defense stiffened on Alpharetta’s next possession, forcing a three-and-out after Raider quarterback Joshua Dobbs loss 18 yards on a sack on third down.
Then the Wildcats went on an 8-play 69-yard drive, that Custis capped off with a 5-yard run to end the night’s scoring with a little over 2 minutes left to play.
Alpharetta drew first blood in the game on a 28-yard field goal by Thomas Waller, following an interception by Raider safety Chase Stratton.
The teams traded punts before Lovejoy went on a seven-play, 75-yard drive, culminated by a 2-yard touchdown run by Custis – who carried the ball on all but one play of the march – to put the Wildcats on top 7-3.
The Lovejoy defense penned Alpharetta inside its own 3-yard line on the Raiders’ next possession, courtesy of a sack and an intentional grounding penalty on Dobbs. Then the Wildcats capitalized on a short punt to the Alpharetta 22-yard line. Four plays later, Jonathan Griffin scored from inside the 1 to push the Lovejoy lead to 14-3.
But just when it looked like the Wildcats were about the grab the game by the throat with their in-your-face, press-cover heavy defense, Alpharetta capitalized on it on its next offensive possession. All-region center Andre Wise penned the Wildcat defensive tackle and Julian Macon shot up the middle, with all of the Lovejoy defensive backs in coverage. Macon dashed 61 yards to narrow the gap to 14-10, midway through the second quarter.
Alpharetta 3 14 7 0 24
Lovejoy 0 22 7 14 43
A – Thomas Waller 28 fg
L – Travis Custis 2 run (Jaime Nunez kick)
L – Jonathan Griffin 1 run (Nunez kick)
A – Julian Macon 61 run (Waller kick)
A – Carlos Burse 57 pass from Joshua Dobbs (Waller kick)
L – Jeff Murphy 25 pass from Alejandro Bennefield (Bennefield run)
L – Custis 12 run (Nunez kick)
A – Macon 6 run (Waller kick)
L – Zane Fields 34 pass from Bennefield (Nunez kick)
L – Custis 5 run (Nunez kick)