Lowndes figured out how to limit the damage from Lovejoy receiver Preston Williams and advanced to the third round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs with a 23-18 win Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Their solution for Williams was to play keep-away and while the big Wildcat receiver caught five passes for 153 yards, they prevented him from taking over the game as he did in Lovejoy’s first-round win over Marietta.
Getting two first-half touchdowns, the Vikings added three field goals by Nick Hart, and won in a game that was statistically lop-sided but turned close at the end.
The Vikings rolled up 358 total yards, 336 of it on the ground, and ran 60 offensive plays to Lovejoy’s 37.
Alex Brown led the Lowndes’ rushing attack with 77 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Brandon Roberts added 71 yards on five carries and Jerome Daniels had 68 yards on 12 carries.
Lovejoy quarterback Quintarius Neely was hurried much of the night and finished with 193 yards on just seven completions.
When the Lowndes offense was on the field, it was grinding clock even when it wasn’t scoring points.
Lovejoy (10-2) which had appeared in the state championship game the past two years, never led but had a chance in the fourth quarter after Jeremiah Kirkland’s 3-yard touchdown run with 7:09 left.
The Wildcats stopped Lowndes and got the ball back in the final four minutes, but Lowndes’ Eric Hart picked off Neely’s pass and the Vikings ran out the clock.
After stopping Lovejoy on the opening possession, Lowndes (9-3) scored first, driving 43 yards in 13 plays, capped by Brown’s 6-yard run around the left end.
Daniels’ 26-yard run at the 8:17 mark in the second period staked Lowndes to a 14-0 lead, and at that point the Vikings had outgained Lovejoy 127-4.
In a span of 41 seconds Lovejoy got back in the game. First, quarterback Neely connected with Williams for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Lowndes blocked the kick and led 14-6.
On the second snap of the ensuring possession, Viking runner Eric Hart fumbled and Lovejoy’s Brandon Williams picked it up and raced into the end zone from 27 yards out to make it 14-12.
Hart’s first field goal, from 40 yards out, gave the Vikings a 17-12 lead, which they took to halftime.
Two more field goals by Hart, from 36 and 19 yards pushed it to 23-12 with 8:52 left in the game.
Lowndes 7 10 3 3 – 23
Lovejoy 0 12 0 6 – 18
LD – Alex Brown 6 run (Nick Hart kick)
LD – Jerome Daniel 26 run (Hart kick)
LJ – Preston Williams 80 pass from Quintarius Neely (kick blocked)
LJ – Brandon Williams 27 fumble return (kick failed)
LD – Hart 40 field goal
LD – Hart 36 field goal
LD – Hart 19 field goal
LJ – Jeremiah Kirkland 3 run (pass failed)