Willie Candler’s 2-yard score in the second overtime led visiting Lovett over Marist 41-38 at Hughes Spalding Stadium Friday night in Atlanta.
In the meantime the Class AA Lions snapped what may be the most unique streak in Georgia high school football. In 29 years as Marist coach Alan Chadwick had never lost consecutive regular-season games before the last two weeks. Marist lost at Thomas County Central last week, and the Lions put up five touchdowns after halftime to push the Class AAAA No. 5 War Eagles to 1-2.
“This is one you will remember for a long time,” Lovett coach Mike Muschamp told his players in the post-game huddle. “Five years from now, 10 years from now, you will still be talking about this one.”
After Joey Gogel hit a 31-yard field goal to give Marist a 38-35 lead. Candler, who finished the game 13-of-26 passing, 201 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, converted third down to force first-and-goal, then ran in on third down to secure the win.
The road does not ease for the Lions (3-0), who host Class AAA state finalist St. Pius next week.
“Our kids fought to the very end,” Muschamp said. “I can’t say enough about Willie Candler and his progression from a freshman to now.”
Lovett jumped ahead 6-0 on its first possession, paced by a 36-yard pass from quarterback Willie Candler to junior tight end Jack Barnes on the Lions’ first play from scrimmage. Lovett moved the ball inside the Marist 10, and after the War Eagles held Vanderbilt commit Grant Haley out of the end zone, Candler completed the 50-yard scoring drive when he scrambled around left end on fourth down from one yard away.
Marist took the lead 7-6 when Marcus Miller took a handoff from quarterback Chase Martenson and scored from 14 yards out. Marist punt returner Griffin King had put the War Eagles ahead with a 57-yard return but the play was flagged for a penalty.
The War Eagles took a 14-6 lead with 6:50 in the second quarter when Miller intercepted Candler and went into the endzone untouched from 16 yards away.
Martenson (19 rushes, 133 yards) called his own number and scored from 33 yards out to put Marist up 21-6 just before halftime. The run completed a 7-play, 70-yard drive for which Martensen ran for 46 yards and completed an 11-yard pass to Miller.
Lovett went 80 yards for a score on the first possession of the second half, capped off by a 45-yard run from Haley. Marist rebounded on a 50-yard run from Matt Perez to go ahead 28-13 in the third quarter.
Gogel missed a 34-yard field goal attempt to put Marist ahead by 10. Lovett took over at the 20 and went 80 yards in three plays to tie the game at 28 with 3:31 left to play. Haley (94 yards rushing) took a handoff from Willie Candler and scored from 26 yards out.
“Our kicking game let us down tonight,” Chadwick said. “That gave them the opportunity to come back and win the game. They have some good athletes and made some big plays at the right times.”
Lovett forced a Marist punt and took the ball at the 46 with 2:57 left. Candler moved the Lions inside the Marist 18 before McGranahan was flagged for offensive pass interference on 3rd-and-13 from the 18. On the next play Candler was intercepted by Michael Toner at the Marist 1 to force overtime.
Lovett 6 0 7 15 13 41
Marist 7 14 7 0 10 38
L – Willie Candler 1 run (run failed)
M – Marcus Miller 14 run (Joey Gogel kick)
M – Miller 16 int ret (Gogel kick)
M – Chase Martensen 33 run (Gogel kick)
L – Grant Haley 45 run (Cole McGowan kick)
M – Matt Perez 50 run (Gogel kick)
L – Haley 4 run (Candler pass to Jack McGranahan)
L – Haley 26 run (McGowan kick)
L – Candler 15 pass to Jack Barnes (McGowan kick)
M – Griffin King 3 run (Gogel kick)
M – Gogel 31 FG
L – Candler 2 run