Raiders rally in second half to avert upset by Gladiators



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Johns Creek nearly pulled off a major late-season upset, losing 31-26 last Friday night, Nov. 8, to Alpharetta after leading the Raiders 20-10 at halftime.

The Gladiators, who finished the season 0-10, held halftime leads in each of their last two games against playoff teams, losing the previous week to North Forsyth after leading 21-0 in the first half.

The Raiders, 7-0 in Region 6-AAAAAA and 8-2 overall, went ahead after Andre Harton returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. It was all Johns Creek after that in the first two periods, as quarterback Chase Solomon ran for one touchdown and passed for two.

Solomon scored on a 6-yard run and connected on scoring passes of 10 yards to Reed Ehrhardt and 36 yards to Kyle Varnell. Solomon, the Gladiators’ starting tailback until injuries knocked out four Johns Creek quarterbacks, passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns, with Varnell catching nine passes for 202 yards.

The Raiders finally unleashed their big play offense in the second half, scoring on a 30-yard run by Lem Cobbs, a 58-yard pass from Austin King to Harton and a 43-yard run by Myles Smith.

The Gladiators scored in the final minute on a 31-yard pass from Solomon to Landre White. Johns Creek finished with 449 yards to 297 for Alpharetta, but the Gladiators were hurt by two lost fumbles. Enoch Webb rushed for 82 yards for Johns Creek.

“The kids never quit,” said Johns Creek coach Mike Cloy. “They kept playing hard. It’s been a rough year, but I’m proud of the coaches and the players.

“North Forsyth just wore us down in the second half and we couldn’t keep up with them,” he said. “Alpharetta made some plays on us.”

Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes said the Raiders “did not play very well in the first half, but we got things together in the second half. Our defense was big in the third quarter and our offense got rolling.”

King completed 11 of 18 passes for 181 yards, with Harton having four receptions for 84 yards. Smith rushed for 119 yards. Chase Stratton led the Raiders with 13 tackles, while Jake Behrend added eight. The Johns Creek defense sacked King five times.

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