CONYERS, Ga. — Call it the second dramatic finish for Alcovy this season.
As if the players, coaches and fans didn’t have enough heart-racing action when the Tigers edged out Rockdale County in week two, Alcovy found a way to do it again against another Rockdale County foe — this time being the Salem Seminoles — with a game-winning touchdown run from Andrae Robinson with 36 seconds left in regulation to give Alcovy a 23-20 win.
It would take a gutsy, 13-point second half comeback from the Tigers to do it, highlighted by a workhorse-like performance from Natorian Holloway, who finished the night with 22 carries for 146 yards and two scores.
Edgar described the win as one with a jumble of feelings.
“I’m feeling every emotion,” he said. “I’m excited, and I’m happy for my guys. I hate it for (Salem) coach (Jarrett) Laws, but what a game.”
The drive that gave the win to the Tigers was as textbook as one could draw it up. With just under seven minutes left in the game and being down three points, Alcovy went 49 yards in a methodical 16 plays before taking the lead on an Andrae Robinson seven-yard scamper to the corner.
With the deathly blows that Holloway kept giving the Seminoles, combined with the explosiveness and clutch-like mentality of Robinson, Edgar couldn’t say enough about his two running backs.
“There’s not much you can’t say about (Holloway),” he said. “Three out of the four weeks, he’s gone over 100 yards. He just works his tail off. When Nate is carrying the load, sometimes, to quote Eminem, we ‘forget about Dre.’ He’s not selfish, though, and he’s always ready to go. Once I saw him get the handoff and I saw a clear view of the goal line, I said ‘he’s scoring.’”
As dramatic as the second half and ending to the game was, it looked to be the complete opposite in the beginning.
Salem would strike first on a seven-yard touchdown run from Omarious Burnham. However, the Tigers would respond fast. It only took two Holloway runs from to cover 49 yards for Alcovy to take a 7-6 lead.
That’s when it looked like the wheels would begin to fall off for the Tigers, specifically in the final minutes of the first half.
After Salem took the lead on a one-yard touchdown run, a strip sack on Jaelen Campbell gave the Seminoles the ball back at the Tiger 37. On the next play, Tyler Smith was found in the end zone, giving Salem a 13-point lead heading into the locker room.
Despite the deficit and the mistakes, Edgar knew they were not out of it.
“I said, ‘Guys, we’ve told you this for four weeks. If we don’t beat ourselves, were fine,’” Edgar said. “’We missed a field goal, and we threw an interception, but hey, we’re fine. Just settle down and go play.’ Coach Wright called an excellent second half too.”
The ground-and-pound mentality came out in full force in the third quarter, which saw Holloway tote the rock ten of his 22 times, but he knew he had to remain focused, despite carrying much of the load.
“I told myself to not be cocky and stay consistent and make sure I read all of my blocks carefully,” he said. “I had to be very patient on each run that I had, even if it might not be a big gain.”
Despite chugging along, and being responsible for two of the Tigers touchdowns, it would be an Andrae Robinson seven-yard sweep to the pylon that would win it for the Tigers.
With the offensive chain around his neck after the game, he couldn’t find words to portray his feelings after the touchdown run.
“It felt indescribable,” he said. “I felt like I was back in my element. Being able to hit the outside and score the touchdown, you can’t feel anything else like it.”
Despite being up 23-20 with 36 seconds left, Salem would make one final attempt at stealing back the game they let slip away from them.
After returning the final kickoff just past midfield, it would only take two plays for them to find themselves at the Tigers 20 with five seconds left. Instead of opting for the 37-yard field goal attempt to tie it, Laws and the Seminoles were going to go for the win.
On the final play, quarterback Donald Wilson heaved the ball to Lennox Bowie who, although double covered, looked as if he initially came down with the ball.
However, a heroic second effort made by senior defensive back Bryson Wilcox to rip the ball away sealed the win for the Tigers.
He couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear as he recalled the play.
“My team holds me to high standards,” Wilcox said. “Being the only senior on the defensive back group, I know I have to lead these guys. Every time I get the opportunity, I have to make the play.”
As the players rushed the field, some running to Wilcox, and some running to Cameron Daniels, who was also in on the final play, there was a period of relief and celebration, as the Tigers escaped with their second win of the season.
But they know the celebration won’t last long.
Although they have two consecutive off weeks, the Tigers will go down to a hostile South Georgia environment, as they take on last season’s Class AAAAAAA state runner up, Colquitt County.
Despite the Packers’ reputation, Wilcox said he, as well as the rest of the team, won’t be scared of them.
“It’s a game that’s paid for, and everybody knows that,” he said. “We’re not going in there like punks, and we’re going to play just like they do. We aren’t scared. We’re going to work hard in the weight room and get a lot of conditioning in to keep up, so we’ll see how it goes.”