ALPHARETTA, Ga. – For most of the first half, a potential offensive shootout between Alpharetta and Centennial was almost devoid of scoring.
The Raiders held a 6-3 lead with less than three-and-a-half minutes to play in the second period, with both teams gaining plenty of yards at that stage without making much headway on the scoreboard.
Barely six minutes of playing time later and Alpharetta’s 6-3 lead had exploded to 34-3. Game over? Not quite.
The Knights ended the third quarter with three touchdowns in a four-and-a-half minute span, pulling within 34-23 with an entire period left to play
But their hopes of a huge comeback win lasted all of 30 seconds. The Raiders struck quickly for a clinching touchdown, with a scoreless final period resulting in a 41-23 victory that had no impact on the battle for the final three playoff spots in Region 6-AAAAAA.
Alpharetta quarterback Joshua Dobbs passed for 379 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Raiders, who piled up 500 yards of offense while keeping Centennial’s primary offensive threat in check.
Centennial’s Christian Robinson came into the game as one of most productive receivers in the state, but was limited to two catches for 4 yards by an Alpharetta defense that allowed three big plays, but offset that with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“This was a momentum game, and we were very fortunate to put some things together,” Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes said. “We had a couple of miscues on special teams and breakdowns defensively here and there.
“But we were playing with a lead, and were able to get our composure back again.”
Centennial (3-3 in the region, 3-6 overall) struck first on a 29-yard field goal by Devin O’Neill, set up by a 41-yard pass from receiver Matthew Harries to Alex Prescott on the first play of the game.
The Raiders (5-1, 6-3) took the lead on a 33-yard pass from Dobbs to Daniel Clements, but it was still 6-3 after more than a dozen minutes of play without a point.
Dobbs, who completed 18 of 34 attempts, hit Clements in stride down the sideline for 54 yards to make it 13-3 with 3:15 to play in the half. The Raiders scored again 12 seconds later when the Knights fumbled on the first play after the kickoff and Alpharetta’s Jay Youngblood scooped it up on the bounce near the goal line.
The fumble started a disastrous offensive stretch for the Knights, who followed it with three interceptions in a span of seven plays, one each by Alpharetta’s Evan Troutt, Bryce Grauss and Michael Downing.
A 30-yard return by Grauss to the Centennial 12 led to Stefohn Perry’s 12-yard scoring run, and the Raiders also scored after Downing’s interception. Standout Alpharetta receiver Carlos Burse turned passer, hitting Rodney Morris for 43 yards to the Centennial 7, and Morris scored on a 7-yard pass from Dobbs, capping the Raiders’ 28-0 burst in six minutes.
The Knights turned an Alpharetta mistake into a score midway through the third quarter when Lloyd Glenn returned a fumble 10 yards for a touchdown after a mishandled punt snap.
Centennial quarterback Chase Rosenberg, who had enjoyed little success to that point, connected with Harries for 48 yards and a touchdown. Then after a successful onside kick, Rosenberg hit freshman Caden Herring for 49 yards to pull the Knights within 34-23. But that was as close as Centennial would get.
Two plays later, Dobbs went deep to Blake Rawlinson for 81 yards and a touchdown, and the Knights’ comeback flame was quickly extinguished.
Rawlinson (five catches, 145 yards) and Clements (seven catches, 179 yards) were Dobbs’ primary targets. Herring (eight catches, 119 yards) led the Knights, with Rosenberg completing 19 of 35 attempts for 237 yards.