By Anthony Rhoads
It's not how you start a football game, it's how you finish and that's what Lovejoy found out Friday night Twelve Oaks Stadium in a 28-20 loss to East Coweta.
Octavius Edge took the opening kickoff 73 yards to the East Coweta 19 and two plays later, Keith Fitzhugh scored on an 18-yard run to give Lovejoy a 7-0 lead.
That was about all Lovejoy could do for the rest of the first half.
"We just went flat and didn't play our kind of football and they responded and we did not," Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes said.
Lovejoy managed just 75 total yards (71 rushing, 4 passing) in the first half on its way to trailing 14-7 at the break.
Both of East Coweta's first half scores were set up by Lovejoy turnovers.
On the last play of the first quarter, East Coweta recovered and Edge fumbled at the Lovejoy 20. Four plays later, East Coweta missed on a 45-yard field goal attempt but Lovejoy was penalized for roughing the kicker.
On the next play, East Coweta scored to tie the game.
On Lovejoy's next possession, Mario Fannin threw an interception and three plays later, East Coweta scored to take a 14-7 lead.
"East Coweta played well tonight," Hughes said. "Coach (Danny) Cronic and his staff out-coached us. They had their kids ready to play and I did not. His players did great."
East Coweta extended its advantage to 21-7 early in the third quarter but Lovejoy managed to come back on its next possession.
With 6:35 remaining in the third quarter, Edge scored on a 15-yard run to cut East Coweta's lead to 21-13. Edge led all rushers with 100 yards on 15 carries.
East Coweta led 28-13 going into the fourth quarter.
With 6:40 remaining in the game, Fannin connected with Edge for a 19-yard touchdown to keep Lovejoy in the contest.
With 4:40 remaining, Lovejoy had another chance to come back when Curtis Strong intercepted a Brandon Behenna pass.
East Coweta's defense held and forced Lovejoy to punt with 3:27 remaining in the game.
"Our kids are going to fight all the way," Hughes said. "You don't go 38-8 (since 2001) and not know how to play and come back. We just made too many mistakes; you can't make mistakes and win."
East Coweta 28, Lovejoy 20
Scoring by quarters
E - 0 14 14 0 - 28
L - 7 0 6 7 - 20
L - Keith Fitzhugh 18 run 10:57 (Maetias Ferreira kick)
E - Brandon Behenna to Chris Bonner 9 pass 9:53 (Ryan Gates kick)
E - Brence Talley 9 run 8:42 (Gates kick)
E - Behenna to Adonis Sharpe 39 pass 8:00 (Gates kick)
L - Octavius Edge 15 run 6:35 (kick failed)
E - Alex Holloway to Antonio Gates 5:14 (Gates kick)
L - Mario Fannin to Edge 19 pass 6:40 (Ferreira kick)