By Jeffery Armstrong
SHARPSBURG ? Bring on the Newnan Cougars.
The Lovejoy Wildcats outscored the East Coweta Indians 14-3 in the second half to break a 14-all tie and keep their hold on first place, defeating the Indians 28-17 Friday night at Shoemake Stadium. This sets up a showdown for first place next Friday as the Wildcats host unbeaten Newnan, 24-17 winners over the Starr's Mill Panthers.
Lovejoy running back Aaron Williams scored on touchdown runs of 2, 1 and 6 yards to help the Wildcats stay undefeated at 7-0, 4-0 in Region 4-AAAAA action. East Coweta drops to 6-2, 4-1 in the region.
"My team grew up tonight," said Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes. "East Coweta is a fine football team. We came down to a hostile environment and played a great game."
Lovejoy started out shaky, giving up 14 points in the first quarter, before settling down. In fact, the defense stepped it up from the second quarter forward. Lovejoy defenders Richard Carter, Jeremy Lomax and David McHone did an excellent job holding East Coweta's potent scoring attack down. East Coweta didn't score again until kicker Michael Vesser booted a 23-yard field goal at the 5:29 mark in the fourth quarter.
Lovejoy turned the tables on East Coweta in the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns as well. Wildcats quarterback Kisan Flakes engineered a 10-play, 90-yard drive which ended with a touchdown pass to receiver Vernard Hoover with 7:09 left. The PAT was no good and Lovejoy was down 14-6.
After an East Coweta punt, Lovejoy drove on the Indians again with Williams scoring on a 2-yard TD run to pull the Wildcats within two. Flakes converted the 2-point conversion to knot the game at 14 at the half.
The second half was all Lovejoy. The defense recovered a fumble by Indians quarterback Alex Holloway and that led to another Williams TD run, this time from the 1-yard line. Lovejoy almost missed the opportunity to score as Williams and teammate Mark Pettaway both fumbled, but their fumbles were recovered by the Wildcats. Both teams combined for eight fumbles in the contest, losing three.
East Coweta ran the ball primarily in the fourth quarter and was on its way to score, but the Lovejoy defense rose to the occasion. Linebacker Robert Hall made a big stop on a first-down play at the Wildcats 14 and the Lovejoy defense made a huge third-down stop to force East Coweta to the 23-yard field goal.
"We came together and showed East Coweta that we may bend, but we don't break," said McHone. "We did what he had to do and laid it to them."
When Lovejoy got the ball back with 5:19 left in the contest, Flakes stepped up as he has done several times this year. The senior ran for a first down on a busted play and made a key 32-yard pass, on the run, to receiver Santini Washington on third down to keep the drive alive. With the ball on the Indians' 6-yard line, Williams' last TD run iced the game, 28-17.
"When I scrambled, the pressure was off me and I was able to make a nice pass to Santini," said Flakes, who was 14-of-24 for 199 yards and one TD pass.