JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – While Alpharetta’s offense gets most of the headlines, the Raiders’ defense has more than held up its end as the Raiders close in on a Region 6-AAAAAA title.
The Raiders won 34-17 at Chattahoochee last Friday night, Oct. 18, keeping the Cougars’ explosive offense in check throughout the night, especially in the second half.
Alpharetta kicked a field goal in the final 15 seconds of the second period to take a 20-17 halftime lead, and shut out the penalty-plagued Cougars the rest of the way.
“Our defense is getting good,” Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes said after his team ran its region record to 4-0. “Our first goal is a region championship. When you hold teams to 16 or 17 points a game, you’ve got a chance against anybody.”
The Raiders (5-2 overall) limited Chattahoochee to seven first downs and 195 yards offense, but the Cougars played a role in their modest offensive numbers. The Cougars (1-3, 3-4) were flagged for holding six times, and the first four all nullified big gains.
Chattahoochee punted on its first four series in the second half, with the team’s last two possessions ending on interceptions.
Chase Nelson fought hard to gain 55 yards on 19 carries against a stout Alpharetta defense, while the Raiders’ pass rush and secondary limited the Cougars to 154 yards through the air.
After a big game running the football the previous week against North Forsyth, the Raiders managed just 42 yards against the Cougars, mostly due to a number of sacks of quarterback Austin King, who wound up with minus 55 yards rushing. Lem Cobbs carried 12 times for 73 yards, with the Raiders getting most of their yards (361) on the passing of King and Vito Priore.
King completed 15 of 21 attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns, with Priore six of 10 for 85 yards and a TD. Andre Harton caught scoring passes of 3 and 15 yards from King, along with a 31-yard reception to the Chattahoochee 1 to set up a sneak by King for a touchdown.
Priore hit Daniel Clements for a 25-yard score to wrap up the scoring.
King completed passes of 30 yards to Harton and 42 yards to Rustin Sutter (six catches, 93 yards) as the Raiders jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. The Cougars pulled even on a 3-yard run by Nelson on the first play after the Raiders fumbled a Chattahoochee punt.
A 47-yard field goal by Adam Abdellaoui gave the Cougars a 10-7 lead before the Raiders pulled even on Thomas Waller’s 36-yard field goal after Chattahoochee returned the favor with a fumble on a punt.
A 26-yard run by Cobbs started a 68-yard drive for the Raiders that put them ahead 17-10 on King’s sneak. The Cougars tied it in the final two minutes of the half on a 36-yard pass from Taz Wilson to Colin Lisa, the third time they scored after gaining possession in Alpharetta territory.
The tie didn’t last long, as Cobbs darted 57 yards on a screen pass to set up Waller’s go-ahead field goal from 42 yards.
The Raiders drove to a touchdown early in the third quarter, with King twice hitting James Marbaugh for 23 yards after a first down sack put Alpharetta in a second-and-17 hole.
A Jay Youngblood interception led to the final Alpharetta score, which came with less than two minutes to play.
Linebacker Bryce Grauss keyed the Alpharetta defensive effort with assists from lineman Andrew Butcher and Ralph Johnson, linebacker Jalin Johnson, corners Dejon Rowe and Devin Mayers and safety Chase Stratton.
Alpharetta is at home Friday night against Lambert (3-1, 4-3), the only team with a realistic chance of denying the Raiders a region title.
The Cougars play at West Forsyth (3-1, 5-2), needing a victory to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Chattahoochee upset the Wolverines last year, preventing them from going 10-0.