COVINGTON, Ga-- Alcovy’s playoff chances came to a bitter and tear-filled end as it lost 40-35 to Heritage in a home Region 3-AAAAAA game on Friday which was Senior Night.
Alcovy fell behind early, but gave Heritage a run for its money toward the end of the game. After being down by 30, the Tigers cut the Patriots’ lead to only five points with 10:47 left in the game. It happened when Dee Fanning caught a pass from Nick Simmons from the 30-yard line.
Alcovy’s defense was able to hold Heritage in check for the rest of the final frame, as the Patriots tried to extend its five point lead to eight with a field goal, but the field goal attempt missed, and with 1:20 left in the game, the Tigers had one last possession to win the game.
Simmons helped march the Alcovy offense 30 yards away from the end zone, and with 25 seconds left the junior signal caller threw the ball to the 4-yard line where Heritage’s Jordan Young intercepted it, thusly sealing Alcovy’s fate.
“Our guys battled,” said Alcovy head coach Chris Edgar. “They knew all week that we had to win this game to go to the playoffs. They fought for 48 minutes. They are a very good football team. They never quit and they never surrendered. They fought with everything they had. The tears that are coming down these guys’ faces are the true passion they have for this game.”
Heritage came into the game hungry for points early as it appeared to find the end zone on just the third play of the game, when Young caught the ball from quarterback Caleb Pruitt on a 44-yard strike. However, a holding penalty was called on the Patriots, negating the score.
That didn’t stop the Patriots, however, as they were able to come back and get another touchdown with Jahcoby Wheeler carrying the ball, giving them a 7-0 advantage over Alcovy with 10:02 left in the first quarter.
Wheeler would get his second touchdown of the night later on with 1:05 left in the first frame when he carried the ball in from the 1-yard line. However, Tiger’s started to fight back on the return. Andrae Robinson had an amazing 87 yard return and with a successful extra point, the score became 14-7.
After Alcovy’s first offensive drive sputtered, Pruitt stretched the Patriots’ lead at the 2:35, in the first frame, with a quarterback sneak from the 1- yard line. Pruitt then secured the two-point conversion to end the first quarter with Heritage holding a 22-7 lead.
Full of penalties, the first quarter lasted 55 minutes as both squads combined for nine infractions.
In the second quarter, Heritage’s offense continued its onslaught. Desmond Bussey completed a pass from the 21-yard line for a touchdown, extending the Patriots’ lead once again. When the Tigers gained possession, they were able to hold onto it for two plays until Simmons threw an interception to Khalil Cooper, with 8:42 left in the first half.
Heritage turned that interception into a Nick Grant touchdown. Pruitt then secured another 2-point conversion for a 30-point lead over Alcovy.
Alcovy’s offense would finally wake up just before halftime. After Grant’s score, Tigers’ Demetrius Tuggle had a big return to the Patriots’ 22- yard line, and after that, Jairus Anthony scored from 15 yards out.
The Tigers’ defense gave them another opportunity when La’ken Nettles caught an interception that would set up Alcovy for another score.
With 2:10 left in the first half, Anthony caught the ball in the corner of the end zone with Patriots defense present. Tigers’ kicker Jose Ramos’ extra point helped to cut the Heritage lead down to 37-21.
Then Alcovy’s Fanning picked off another Pruitt pass in the third quarter, and though it didn’t immediately lead to points, it kept Alcovy’s momentum building.
At the 4:47 mark in the third quarter, Simmons gave the ball to Robinson who carried into the end zone from the 4-yard line, and the extra point made it a 37-28 game.
Heritage’s Chas Koeing managed to kick a 46-yard field goal for a 40-28 score late in the third before the late fourth quarter drama ensued.
Alcovy (3-6, 0-4) will travel to Greenbrier (5-4, 0-4) for its next and final region game, still in search of its first region win. Heritage (6-3, 3-1) will also hit the road when it travels to Evans (7-2, 4-0) for a Region 3-AAAAAA tussle. Both games will take place Friday at 7:30 p.m.