ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Despite turning the ball over eight times against a team that played in state championship games each of the last two years, the Alpharetta Raiders were within a late two-point conversion of knocking off Lovejoy.
The Wildcats (2-1) escaped with a 24-23 victory when the Raiders (1-2) scored in the final 30 seconds but failed to convert the two-point try.
“We had the guy we wanted to throw the ball to open in the back of the end zone, but we threw to the wrong receiver,” Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes said. “We played an extremely sloppy game. I firmly believe if we did not turn it over eight times, we would have won going away.”
Alpharetta quarterback Vito Priore, making his first start after passing for 321 yards and four touchdowns coming off the bench the previous week, threw for 400 yards and a score against Lovejoy. But he also was intercepted three times, twice in the end zone, with the Wildcats returning one of them 100 yards for a touchdown.
The Raiders also lost five fumbles, all in Lovejoy territory, as they were unable to capitalize on their success throwing the football. James Marbaugh and Andre Harton had big games receiving for Alpharetta, with running back Lem Cobbs catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from Priore.
Elijah Burnette scored on two short runs in the second half for the Raiders, who shut the Wildcats out in the final two periods. The Raiders have not allowed a point in the second half this season.
“The defense played out of their minds in the second half,” Dukes said. “It’s difficult for me not to be pleased with the way they played.”
The Raiders play their Region 6-AAAAAA opener Friday night at West Forsyth. The winner of this game has won the region each of the last two seasons, with the Wolverines outscoring the Raiders 63-42 in 2012.
The Wolverines are 2-1 against a strong schedule, and again sport a dangerous offense despite losing their primary weapons from last season. Defensively, West Forsyth has yielded 108 points in three games, with the Raiders looking for a big night on offense if they can limit their turnovers.