The ball bounced the right way for Carver-Atlanta once again.
The Panthers’ boom-or-bust special teams’ play and a fourth-down stand in the final two minutes held up in a 22-19 win over city rival Grady Friday at Lakewood Stadium.
With four minutes to play, Carver-Atlanta blocked Grady punter Omar Skandari at the goal line and recovered at the Grey Knights’ 2-yard line. A personal foul pushed the ball to the 1, where quarterback Jordan Holden scored on first down. Derrick Johnson’s two-point conversion made the score 22-19.
Grady regained possession at their 23, and needing 12 yards on fourth down got 11 on a completed pass from quarterback Kivon Taylor. Carver-Atlanta took over and ran out the clock to remain undefeated.
The Panthers (9-0, 5-0) claimed the 6-AAAA Division B title and home field for an opening-round playoff game in two weeks. The victory also secured home field advantage for the region championship game against either Marist or Chamblee.
For the fourth time in nine games this season, the Panthers won a game decided by three points or fewer, including a victory against Washington last week by the identical score.
“Our guys came up with a crucial stop at a crucial point in the game,” Carver-Atlanta coach Darren Myles said. “They did a great job of staying composed and pulling through.”
Montravious Taylor rushed for 196 yards on 27 carries for Carver, including 158 after halftime. His touchdown with 11:24 left to play gave the Panthers a 14-13 lead. He also converted a third-down to secure the victory.
“He’s such a hard worker, and a relentless guy,” Myles said of the senior running back. “He was sore earlier in the week so we rested him. We love him.”
Grady capitalized on a Carver turnover on downs to go ahead early in the second quarter. The Grey Knights took over at the 50 and scored eight plays later when Isiah Jenkins ran in from 13 yards out.
On the ensuing kickoff, Khai Anderson went 90 yards up the left sideline for Carver, and Holden hit Roc’M Nesbitt for a two-point conversion to put the Panthers ahead 8-6.
Grady (7-2, 5-1) opened the second half with a 68-yard scoring drive capped off by a 50-yard run from Hakeem Todd. Todd finished the game with 111 yards rushing on 16 carries. Along with the blocked punt, the Grey Knights had a point-after-touchdown blocked and a two-point conversion refused.
“In both games we’ve lost this year, special teams hurt us,” Grady head coach Ronnie Millen.
The Grey Knights will play either Stone Mountain or Columbia in a region play-in game next week.
Grady – 0 – 6 – 7 – 6 – 19
Carver – 0 – 8 – 0 – 14 – 22
Grady — Isiah Jenkins 13 run (kick blocked)
Carver – Khai Anderson 90 kick ret (Jordan Holden pass to Roc’M Nesbitt)
Grady – Hakeem Todd 50 run (Nick Caamano kick)
Carver – Montravious Taylor 13 run (pass failed)
Grady – Jenkins 13 run (pass failed)
Carver- Holden 1 run (Derrick Johnson run)