DULUTH, Ga. — Numerous costly penalties combined with a difficult time moving the ball early led to the Alcovy High School football team dropping its third game of season Friday night, falling to the Duluth Wildcats by a score of 42-27.
After tough losses to North Forsyth and Newton, Alcovy was looking to get back on track as it would once again travel north to face the Wildcats.
From the first snap of the game, penalties were playing a big factor for both teams, as the first half would see over 20 total penalties from both sides.
On the second play of the game for the Tigers, Duluth was able to strip the ball from Melvin Mapp to give the Wildcats the ball back in outstanding field position. Duluth used the turnover to march down and score the first points on a four-yard rush from Lonnie Ratliff.
Two quick three-and-outs from the Alcovy offense would result in two quick scores for the Wildcats as they would continue to run the ball, scoring two touchdowns on the ground by Jaiden Jones to extend the Duluth lead to 21-0 halfway through the first quarter.
On the Tigers’ next drive, the Wildcats linemen met Alcovy quarterback Ashton Evans at the line and forced a fumble, giving Duluth the ball around midfield.
On the next Wildcat snap, Duluth halfback Nyle Ervin took the ball outside and outran the Alcovy defense for the 53-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 28-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In need of a score, Alcovy head coach Jason Dukes began to let Evans go through the air more, and the young quarterback delivered immediately. Two quick passes would set up a 30-yard touchdown pass from Evans to senior wideout MJ Stroud.
After a mixed extra point, the Tigers went into halftime down by a score of 28-6.
Coming out of halftime, the key for Alcovy was going to be stopping the Duluth rushing attack while also generating an attack of their own, as majority of the first half saw the Tigers offense get stopped on almost every drive.
After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Wildcats marched down the field and eventually got into the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ratliff to Jones. The score extended the Duluth lead to 35-6.
Before the end of the third quarter, Ervin was once again able to get through the Tiger defense, rushing up the middle for the 37-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 42-6 lead.
After three big passes from Evans to open the fourth quarter, the Tigers would continue to march down the field and Evans would once again find Stroud in the back of the end zone, this time on a 21-yard touchdown pass. After the second touchdown of the day for Alcovy, they still trailed 42-13 with eight minutes left in the game.
After a quick three-and-out by the Duluth offense, a fumbled snap by the punter put the Tigers on the nine-yard line to start their next drive. Alcovy answered quick with running back Tristan Mayweather taking the carry outside for the nine-yard touchdown, bringing the Tigers closer by a score of 42-19.
With another stop by the Alcovy defense, Evans got the ball back for the final time in the game, and he would once again deliver in the fourth quarter.
The sophomore quarterback connected with Mathias Height up the middle of the field for the 29-yard touchdown pass to shrink the Wildcats’ lead to 42-27 with less than a minute left in the game.
Despite a rough first half offensively, Evans’ ability to stick to the air attack in the second half is what brought the Tigers closer near the end of regulation.
After starting 0-3 on the season, the Tigers will head back home next week as they will face their county rival Eastside Friday, Sept. 25.