JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – In a game full of big plays, Alpharetta made a few more than Johns Creek, and that proved the difference as the Raiders got past the Gladiators 35-32 last Friday night.
The victory enabled Alpharetta to finish the season tied for first in Region 6-AAAAAA and gave the Raiders a home game in the first round of the state playoffs. Johns Creek tied for third in the region and will be the region’s third-seeded playoff team.
The Raiders held the led for all but six minutes of the third quarter after scoring on their first possession of the game.
The Gladiators had a chance to expand on a 24-21 lead in the third period, but an interception by the Raiders’ DeAndre Watkins led to a touchdown that gave Alpharetta the lead for good.
Both teams produced more than 400 yards of offense, with the Raiders getting a lift from their running game. After the Gladiators closed to within 35-32 with 4:58 to play, the Raiders were able to run out the clock, reaching the Johns Creek 1-yard line in the closing seconds.
Alpharetta quarterback Joshua Dobbs was 16 of 28 passing for 354 yards and a touchdown. He added two rushing TDs, along with some key gains to keep drives alive. Stefohn Perry added 60 yards rushing, including a 32-yard score. He helped the Raiders hold the ball for the final five minutes along with Dobbs and Julian Macon.
Macon also ran for a score and set up another with a 60-yard reception on the game’s first series.
A scrambling Dobbs found Macon deep down the sideline to set up the game’s first score, a 2-yard sneak by Dobbs.
Johns Creek quarterback Skye Overton gained 30 yards on the Gladiators’ first play, leading to a 33-yard Kyle Fowler field goal.
Dobbs connected twice with Carlos Burse for key third downs, and scored on a 9-yard run early in the second period.
Then Overton broke loose for 74 yards and a score, but the Raiders immediately retaliated. They went 90 yards in six plays with Perry covering the last 32 after Dobbs completed three passes for 59 yards.
Overton was four-of-four passing on the next Johns Creek series for 57 yards, hitting Austin Pack for 17 yards and the score. But the Raiders were able to hold Overton to only two of 10 passing for 30 yards the rest of the game and intercepted him twice. Overton did his damage on the ground (18 carries, 198 yards).
The Gladiators took their only lead early in the third quarter, with tailback Chase Solomon scoring on a 5-yard run. Solomon gained 122 yards on 20 carries, including a 52-yard sprint preceding his touchdown run.
The Raiders regained the lead midway through the quarter on a 3-yard TD pass from Dobbs to Rodney Morris. Morris set up the play with a diving catch for 33 yards to the Johns Creek 10. The Raiders were aided by a generous pass interference call in the end zone the play before the go-ahead touchdown.
Backed up inside their 10 after a punt, the Raiders took a shot and Dobbs teamed up with Daniel Clements for 69 yards, leading to a 2-yard scoring run by Macon.
The Gladiators followed with an impressive drive running the ball 11 straight times, with Solomon scoring from the 5.
Overton, who had 63 of the 82 yards, ran for the 2-point try, but the Gladiators never got the ball back. Dobbs hit Clements for 26 yards and kept for a 25-yard gain as the Raiders chewed up 84 yards and the clock.
“I was pleased with the effort,” Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes said. “At times we didn’t play good defense and we made a few mistakes offensively, but I’m proud as heck of my team.
“My hats are off to their team,” he said of Johns Creek. “It’s hard to stop their offense.”