Behind quarterback Tristan Payne’s 112 rushing yards, and a stout, senior-laden defense, the Alcovy Tigers shut out the Morrow Mustangs, winning 29-0 at Tara Stadium Thursday in Jonesboro.
With the win, Alcovy improved its record to 5-2, 2-1 in Region 2-AAAAAA.
Coming off a bye week, Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman was concerned that his team might not play to its potential. But, those fears were quickly put to rest.
“I thought it was a trap game, and I didn’t know if we practiced well enough,” Hoffman said. “But, I thought we played hard. Defensively, you couldn’t ask for a better job. Offensively, we made some great plays, but then we’d do something and shoot ourselves in the foot. We got to go back and correct those mistakes. The key for us, and the kids know this, is that we just got to keep getting better every week.”
After the Tigers and the Mustangs traded punts to begin the game, Alcovy got on the scoreboard as senior OkonGodwin ran two yards off his left guard for a touchdown with 3:08 left in the first quarter to lead 7-0. Godwin’s touchdown was set up on a 29-yard run scramble by Payne, who rushed 24 times in three quarters of work.
Morrow (1-6, 0-2 in Region 2-AAAA) could never establish any offensive rhythm, as Alcovy’s defense, led by senior linebacker Curtiss Benton, held the Mustangs to only three first downs the entire game.
Morrow had a brief glimmer of hope as they intercepted Payne’s pass at 11:14 of the second period, but Benton and the Tigers’ defense immediately pushed the Mustangs backwards and forced a punt.
After a missed 39-yard field goal by Alcovy, Morrow, again, couldn’t move the ball, and was forced to punt. Senior D’Anthony Elder fielded the ball at the Morrow 35-yard line and raced untouched into the end zone, giving Alcovy a 14-0 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the second half, as Mustang quarterback Charles Gibson was hounded by the Tigers’ defense. Morrow didn’t get an offensive first down until the 6:54 mark of the third quarter, and then lost 14 yards on three plays and had to punt.
Alcovy took over on its own 48, and three successive Mustang penalties - a face mask, a late hit and defensive offside - moved the ball to the Morrow 4-yard line where Godwin rumbled in for his second touchdown to put the Tigers up 20-0 at the end of three quarters.
Hoffman gave Payne, and several other starters, the rest of the night off as junior quarterback D’Anthony Bell took over in the fourth quarter. Bell rushed twice for 17 yards, and was 0-2 passing with one interception.
Benton, however, was far from done. His sack of Gibson pushed the Mustangs back to their five-yard line. Two plays later, Benton crashed through the Morrow line and sacked Gibson for a safety, giving the Tigers a 22-0 lead with 9:08 left in the game.
Alcovy closed out the scoring as senior Tyrel Cooper returned a Gibson interception for a touchdown with 1:44 left in the game to give the Tigers a 29-0 lead.
Asked about Benson and the Tiger defense, Hoffman had nothing but praise for his unit.
“He (Benson) is a young man that can play” Hoffman said. I said all along, defensively, they got to lead us, and he’s one of the leaders over there. He came to play tonight, and I think he showed up, especially, in that first quarter.”
Next up on the schedule, the Tigers host the Druid Hills Red Devils for homecoming Oct. 24.