There was no situation Prestion Williams couldn’t get Lovejoy out of Friday night against Marietta in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, a 27-23 win for the No. 6-ranked Wildcats at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Williams hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass on the final play, erasing a 23-21 deficit and sending Lovejoy to the second round.
Williams hauled in seven passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns, one of which he set up with an interception.
“We’ve got a new team this year,” said Williams. “But we’ve worked too hard to get put out in the first round.”
Lovejoy (10-1) ousted Marietta (8-3) for the second straight year.
The Blue Devils led 23-21 after Ian Shannon’s 40-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. It was Shannon’s third field goal of the night and Marietta appeared primed for the upset.
But then Williams went to work, grabbing the kickoff at the 1-yard line and racing out to the 39 before officials said he stepped out of bounds. Four plays later, with five seconds left and Lovejoy on the Marietta 47, he ran down the right sideline, found himself surrounded at the 10 where he leaped and caught Quintarius Neely’s pass, then stepped past several Marietta defenders into the end zone.
A Lovejoy dogpile ensued.
“He’s the best player in the state,” said Lovejoy coach Al Hughes. “We need to find ways to get him the ball as much as we can.
Neely and Williams connected on touchdown passes of 32, 66, 96 and 47 yards. Neely finished with 335 yards passing despite throwing three interceptions.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow when you have such great kids who put themselves in a position to win a game and it just didn’t go our way,” said Marietta coach Scott Burton.
One of Williams’ touchdowns got the Wildcats out of a third-and-long situation, another one got them out of the shadow of their own goal, the final one gave them the win and collectively they got the Wildcat offense off the hook on a three-turnover night in which the running game struggled.
After Lovejoy scored twice in the first seven minutes and one play after the second one, quarterbaack Brenton Martin suffered an apparent shoulder injury.
Jordan Mathis came on in relieve and led the Blue Devils to a 20-point second quarter, and his 34-yard pass to tight end Marcus Bennett on fourth down near midfield set up Shannon’s go-ahead field goal in the final minute.
Marietta’s KirVonte’ Benson finished with 109 yards on 27 carries, including a 16-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Marietta 0 20 0 3 – 23
Lovejoy 14 0 7 6 – 27
L – Preston Williams 32 pass from Quntarius Neely (Jaime Nunez kick)
L – Williams 66 pass from Neely (Nunez kick)
M – Marcus Bennett 19 pass from Jordan Mathis (Ian Shannon kick)
M – KirVonte’ Benson 16 run (Shannon kick)
M – Shannon 40 field goal
M – Shannon 27 field goal
L – Williams 96 pass from Neely (Nunez kick)
M – Shannon 40 field goal
L – Williams 47 pass from Neely (no try)