MCDONOUGH, Ga. -- The Alcovy Tigers got their much needed bounce back Friday night.
After coming off of two tough losses at home, Alcovy took to the road and used stellar defense to defeat the Warhawks of Henry County 23-6 in a non-region matchup.
“We needed this,” head coach Chris Edgar said. “Everybody on this team took the loss last week personally, and the danger was letting something like that compile into another one. I challenged them all week to get off the mat.”
Get off the mat is something they did right away. The game started well for the Tigers as Andrae Robinson took the opening kickoff from the five and sprinted 50 yards, setting up the Tigers in prime field position at the Warhawks 45.
After several powerful runs by Quindrelin Hammonds, the Tigers found themselves in a fourth and goal situation from the 1. They were unsuccessful, however, in punching it in, which gave the ball to Henry County on its own 1-yard line.
With both teams trading some stalled drives, it would be Henry County which struck first on a methodical 18-play, 85-yard drive capped off by a four-yard pass to Billy Jerome from Jaylon West.
When the Tigers couldn’t respond on offense, Jose Ramos helped flip the field with a perfect punt to the five-yard line of the Warhawks. Two plays later, the Tigers would get their first points of the game from a safety.
Despite the ball going back to Alcovy, quarterback Cameron Anderson would throw a pick that would halt a promising drive and send the Tigers into the locker room down at the half 6-2 with an offense that failed to get much of anything going.
“We came out a little flat to begin with,” Edgar said. “The defense played great all night, but offensively, we had a couple miscues.”
With the first half behind them, the Tigers came out and executed a gutsy onside kick to perfection, giving them the ball back at the Henry County 44.
“I would like to say that I wanted something to start a spark,” said a grinning Edgar. “I actually said all week though, that the first kick we’re going to do would be an onside kick, whether we kicked off first or second.”
Despite being planned, the kick would be the actual spark the Tigers needed, as on the ensuing drive, Anderson would throw for 38 yards capping it off with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jairus Anthony to put the Tigers out front.
“In the first half, the plays were there, but I just needed confidence in me,” Anderson said. “My teammates had my back. My offensive line did great, my receivers did great, so I knew that if I had confidence in myself, I would make plays, and that’s exactly what happened.”
With an offense finding its rhythm, the defense, which played as a smash-mouth unit all night, disrupted an attempted screen pass from the Warhawks, leading to a fumble that was scooped up by linebacker Stephon Jefferson, who rumbled 50 yards to add on another score.
With the momentum on their side, Anderson and company would find one of his top receivers in Dee Fanning for a 37-yard score at the beginning of the fourth quarter that would ultimately put the game out of reach for the Warhawks who failed to answer with any points.
As Anderson ended the night with 120 yards passing and two touchdowns, Edgar made note of something he told him when the junior quarterback was struggling early on.
“He kept coming to the sidelines saying, 'my bad, my bad,’ and I said ‘Cam, stop saying my bad. Just settle down and play, and he came out to make some big throws when he had to, along with those touchdowns.”
Another improvement from the Tigers was not just a second half adjustment, but an entire game trend.
The offensive line allowed little to no pressure on Anderson, while opening some holes for a ground-and-pound run game that would eventually seemed to wear the Henry County defense down.
“They’re coming together week after week,” Edgar said. “For most of them, this is just their fourth varsity football game, and tonight, it was the first varsity game for my left tackle. They are all young, and are growing and learning. Little by little, they are making huge strides.”
The line was without its starting left tackle, Andruw Binion, who was sidelined for a few weeks with an injury he sustained in last week’s game. However, that didn’t stop Alcovy's Frenchmen from getting consistent push off the line of scrimmage, which was an achievement noticed by Anderson, who said he I s learning to gain more trust in his line.
“My line did an excellent job, but I just need to trust them more,” he said. “If I have trust in my line, along with confidence in myself, we’re going to be a great team,”
With the win, Alcovy will enter the bye week with a chance to rest and recuperate before it takes on their last non-region opponent, Forest Park, which the Tigers bested by a point in last season’s contest.
“We’ve already got some film, which were going to start on Sunday, then we will give them the week off before getting back to it the week after," Edgar said.
Their homecoming game against the Panthers will take place on Sept. 22 at Sharp Stadium with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff time.