COVINGTON, Ga. — There were times Friday night when Alcovy looked like they were playing in another 7-on-7 tournament, except this one with pads.
That’s how free-flowing and effective Alcovy’s offense was in its season opener against the Duluth Wildcats Friday night at Homer Sharp Stadium.
Junior quarterback Cameron Anderson’s impressive night led the way. The 6-foot-2 signal caller finished with 178 yards passing and four touchdown tosses. With seven carries, he also tallied 66 of Alcovy’s 312 rushing yards to lead the Tigers to a 37-22 win over Duluth, in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
The victory gave coach Chris Edgar a 2-0 record in season openers at Alcovy. It’s the first time in school history that Alcovy has won regular season openers in consecutive seasons.
The Tigers had to hold off a late game push by Duluth which scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But a potential third scoring drive, set up by an Anderson fumble, was halted when Bryson Wilcox stepped in front of a pass from Duluth quarterback Jalil El-Amin.
It was a play where Edgar said Wilcox was able to redeem himself from giving up a big play to start the game.
“He learned from his mistake,” Edgar said. “He was the one that ended up making the play in the end to seal it for us. That’s what we want to see from our guys.”
Alcovy was forced to become resilient early in the game, as things couldn’t have started worse for the Tigers.
That’s because El-amin hooked up with his favorite target, William Huzzie — the school’s all-time leading receiver — who beat Wilcox on a 91-yard, one-handed touchdown grab on the first play of the game. Duluth converted a two-point conversion to give the Wildcats an 8-0 lead early.
Then, D.J. Tuggle fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Alcovy recovered it. What followed was a 12-play, 64 yard response drive that was capped off when Quindrelin Hammonds scored from 15 yards out on a jet sweep, cutting the Duluth lead to 8-7 at the 8:03 mark of the first quarter.
After Alcovy’s Jalen Banks and another Tiger double teamed for a third down sack of El-Amin, Alcovy got the ball back and went to work on offense again, this time with a nine play scoring drive that ended when Jose Ramos booted a field goal from 28 yards at the 1:06 mark of the first quarter.
The Tiger defense got into the act on the first play of the second quarter when Stephon Jefferson stripped a Duluth ball carrier, causing a fumble and recovering it at the Duluth 42 yard line.
Alcovy then promptly went back to work on offense. First, it was Hammonds picking up 16 yards on another jet sweep, which set up Andrae Robinson who took a handoff and sprinted 17 yards to the end zone to put Alcovy up 17-8 in the second quarter. Robinson finished the game with 148 rushing yards on 13 carries to go along with his score.
The next time the Tigers would score, it would be quick, thanks to a short Duluth punt that started Alcovy’s drive on the Wildcats’ 36 yard line. It only took three plays for Anderson to find Anthony all alone in the end zone for a 24-yard scoring strike that extended Alcovy’s lead to 23-8 with just under seven minutes remaining in the half.
The start of the third quarter meant more Alcovy domination on both sides of the ball. First, Banks stuffed Duluth’s Rouse for a three yard loss, then Trey Smith forced and recovered a fumble two plays later at the Duluth 38.
On the very next play, Robinson darted inside, then bounced and sprinted toward the left sideline for a 61-yard gain. Three plays later, Anderson hit Kameron Phuong over the middle for a four-yard score at the 4:41 mark of the third quarter, giving Alcovy a 30-8 lead.
A three-and-out forced by a Tigers defense that was aggressive and hard hitting all night gave the ball back to Anderson and the offense, who took just one play to find Nico Johnson streaking down the sideline wide open for a 52-yard scoring strike to extend the lead to 37-8 with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
Things got a little sloppy for Alcovy thereafter, as El-Amin hit Huzzie and Travion Hampton on big pass plays, setting El-Amin up for a one yard touchdown plunge at the 11:37 mark in the fourth quarter.
On Alcovy’s next drive, Anderson fumbled after ripping off a big run, and four plays later, El-Amin connected with Kevon Rouse four a six-yard score which eventually proved to be the game’s final score.
Duluth would recover the onside kick after the Rouse score, but that only set the stage for Wilcox’s late game heroics, which set the stage for feel good moments as Alcovy looks ahead to its next chance at a win when it hosts Meadowcreek at Sharp Stadium next Saturday.
And perhaps Edgar summed up things best for his team, as he challenged them in the postgame huddle not to allow Friday night’s success to get to their heads.
“We can’t be complacent,” he said. “Being 1-0 is great. But being 2-0 is even better.”
Make sure you check out our postgame coverage video above to catch Edgar’s full reaction to his team’s win.