ALPHARETTA, Ga. — After a couple of lopsided losses to start the season, Alpharetta (5-2, 5-0) has reeled off five straight wins in Region 7-AAAAAA play, including a 44-15 win over Chattahoochee Friday night.
Although the score showed a lopsided win for Alpharetta, Raiders’ head coach Jacob Nichols wasn’t too thrilled with his team’s performance.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Nichols said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on. We got to continue to work on our discipline, which wasn’t there tonight. But we were in some tough situations, and we were able to find our way out of them.”
The Raiders controlled the game early, jumping out to a 10-0 with a 40-yard touchdown run from Dylan Merrell and a 23-yard Bryce Troutt field goal.
On the first drive of the second quarter, Alpharetta needed only one play to score. Senior quarterback Will Gerdes completed a short pass to Merrell, who weaved through the defense for a 79-yard touchdown.
Chattahoochee got the ball back with four minutes to go in the half looking to score its first points of the night. The offense started near midfield, and junior quarterback Jaylen Smith connected with Jordan Palmer, who reeled in a jaw-dropping catch over the defender to pick up 23 yards. The Cougars drove inside the 10-yard line, and Ian Ortloff drilled a 20-yard field goal before the half to make it a 17-3 game.
The Raiders picked up where they left off in the second half and scored on their opening possession. Kevin Howard reeled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Gerdes, and the extra point pushed the Raiders lead to 24-3.
Alpharetta soon tacked on another score with Gerdes connecting with Trent Martin for a 61-yard gain that set up the Raiders inside the Hooch 5-yard line. They handed the ball off to fullback Jordan Leslie, who ran through the middle of the defense and into the end zone.
After the Alpharetta defense forced another punt, Gerdes and the offense took over at their own 33-yard line. The Raiders quickly worked their way down the field, and Gerdes found Cam Foster in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.
Down 37-3 late in the third quarter, the Cougars showed signs of life with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Palmer.
In the fourth quarter the Raiders added a 25-yard touchdown run from sophomore Tylan Johnson, their final score of the night. Palmer added points to the board for Chattahoochee again, this time with a leaping grab over the defender on a 24-yard pass from Smith.
“First half was kind of frustrating,” Nichols said. “We had some big plays but couldn’t string anything together. For every big play we had a three and out. It was hard to get a gauge on it halftime, but I was proud of the way they finished. They were able to take advantage of some situations, make some big plays and finish it off on the scoreboard.”
With five straight wins under their belt, the Raiders sit atop the Region 7-AAAAAA standings tied with Johns Creek (6-1, 5-0). The two teams face off on Nov. 1, but first the Raiders have to play Northview Oct. 24. Chattahoochee has only two games remaining this season with Dunwoody up next on Nov. 1.