By Doug Gorman
The Lovejoy Wildcats scored touchdowns on the ground, through the air and also on defense Friday against Fayette County en route to a 43-28 victory at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
It was Lovejoy's (4-2) fourth straight victory after opening the season with losses to Mt. Zion and North Clayton. The win keeps the Wildcats unbeaten at 2-0 in Region 4-AAAAA.
"Anytime you don't play your best football and still come away with a win, that's a big deal," said Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes.
Lovejoy never trailed in the game, but had to fight off a couple of Fayette County comeback attempts in both halves.
Trailing 43-14 early in the fourth quarter, Fayette County scored two touchdowns in a span of about five minutes and also recovered two on-side kicks before the Wildcats regained possession of the football and ran out the clock.
When it did have the ball, the Wildcats' offense was potent as it rolled up more than 300 yards.
Octavius Edge led the ground attack with 128 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Mario Fannin was 7 of 14 for 128 yards and a touchdown to help the Wildcats keep their winning streak alive.
"We got our offensive swagger back tonight, and it was a great performance," Hughes said.
As dominating as the Wildcats' offense was throughout the game, their defense started the scoring when Keith Fitzhugh recovered a fumble and returned it 62 yards for the score at the 10:02 mark of the first quarter.
Nearly four minutes later, the Wildcats were back in the end zone when they capped a 66-yard drive with Edge's 12-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
Fayette County appeared to have been stopped on its next series, but a botched punt return by Lovejoy led to a fumble and the Tigers' first score of the game.
Taking over on the Lovejoy 25, the Tigers moved the ball into the end zone in five plays as Channing Welch scored on a 1-yard run to cut the lead to 14-7.
Fannin's 19-yard touchdown and Edge's 15-yard TD scamper gave the Wildcats a 29-7 lead late in the second quarter, but the Tigers answered back when quarterback Jonathan Watson connected with Brandon Henderson on the last play of the first half to cut the gap to 29-14.
The Wildcats answered with two quick scores to open the second half.
Fannin's 19-yard TD pass to Chris Hail and the quarterback's second TD run of the game, this time on a 17-yard sprint, helped the Wildcats build a 43-14 lead.
The Wildcats scored on a 2-point conversion, and Matias Ferreira was perfect on all of extra point attempts as part of the Lovejoy win.
The Wildcats return to region action next week at Union Grove.
"We aren't going to worry about anybody else right now," said Hughes. "We are just going to take care of our own business."
Fayette, coached by former Jonesboro and Riverdale head coach Tommy Webb, dropped to 1-6 overall and 1-2 in league action.