MOUNT AIRY - Despite a gallant effort, Alcovy continues to search for its first win after losing to defending Region 8-AAAA champions, Habersham Central, 34-14, on Friday night.
But the Tigers (0-1) are no strangers to adversity. Proof of that came during the first quarter, after an apparent touchdown pass was negated due to a questionable call by the official.
"This team is having to battle adversity," said Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffmann.
Meanwhile, the Raiders (1-0) clearly exposed Alcovy's weak and inexperienced secondary for much of the opening quarter.
Habersham quarterback Bo Hatchett connected for a 22-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Scott with 11 minutes and 20 seconds remaining in the first period. And on his next possession, Hatchett again took advantage of the secondary by putting together a two-play, 55-yard drive. After hitting speedy Tavarres King on a 32-yard fade pass to the corner of the end zone, the score was 14-0.
The Raiders shut down Alcovy's offense completely, and mounted a seven-play, 55-yard route to take advantage of the defense. Hatchett managed to get away from an Alcovy defender - who had him in Habersham's backfield - by taking it in himself for a third touchdown of the first quarter.
"Hatchett is a legitimate QB," said Hoffmann. "He makes good reads and made good throws. Habersham will go a long way."
After a 45-minute storm delay, the Tigers came back to shock the crowd of 5,967 in attendance at John Larry Black Field.
In the second quarter, Alcovy's Ryan Ledford took the very first possession on a quarterback sneak and rumbled 85 yards for the score. (It marked the longest run play in Alcovy history).
After Tim Walsh kicked the extra point, the Tigers were down two touchdowns with 2:52 remaining. But soon after the touchdown, the Raiders showed why they are ranked fourth in the state, after Hatchett delivered with a six-play, 66-yard drive and capping it off with a 38-yard touchdown pass to King, making it 28-7 at the half.
"Alcovy has certainly improved from a year ago," said Habersham head coach Gene Cathcart. "They are a year in their weight program because most of those kids from last year were weaker. But they are much improved, and that is a credit to Coach Hoffmann and his staff."
In the second half, Alcovy's defense came alive. The Tigers made three defensive stands, forcing the Raiders to kick field goals of 21 and 37 yards by Scott Hulsey.
"We gave it all we had," said Alcovy lineman and team captain, Keivan Rhodes. "From Monday (to) Thursday, we have got to go harder all the way around."
Ledford would eventually lead the Alcovy offense on an 8-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Cody Edwards (3 receptions for 34 yards) at the 1:50 mark.
The Raiders combined for 368 total offensive yards, while the Tigers were held to just 157. Alcovy also turned the ball over four times due to fumbles.
Still, the average gain per play was somewhat close, including the number of first downs per team. Habersham averaged 6.9 yards per play, while Alcovy averaged 4.2. In addition, the Tigers had 12 first downs, just four shy of Habersham's total.
"I couldn't be any happier with this group of guys," said Hoffmann. "We bended but we didn't break."
Overall, Ledford was 6 for 13 with 55 passing yards. Top rushers for Alcovy included Ledford (11 carries for 68 yards) and Malachi Outlaw (9 carries for 43 yards).
"Sooner or later, (Alcovy) is going to break through with a win," said Cathcart. "They are going to surprise a lot of people in their region." Alcovy will next host rival Newton on Friday at Sharp Stadium.