By Doug Gorman
It didn't take long for the North Clayton Eagles to get over their season opening loss to Riverdale - just one week to be exact.
The Eagles defeated Lovejoy 21-16 Friday night in a game that wasn't decided until the last play of the contest.
North Clayton took a 21-10 lead with 1:29 remaining in the game when Morgan Burnett scored on a short quarterback keeper.
But Lovejoy still had plenty of life left in its offense. Senior quarterback Mario Fannin marched the Wildcats down field and deep into North Clayton territory, and backup quarterback Ryan Williamson finished the drive by connecting with Matt Allen on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats recovered the onside kick and took a couple of attempts at the end zone before time ran out.
It was North Clayton's second straight victory against Lovejoy.
"This was a great win for us," said North Clayton head coach Don Shockley. "This was all about senior leadership. Our seniors really stepped it up tonight."
Running back Dominque Randolph, who rushed for 137 yards, agreed with his coach.
"This was a team effort," he said. "We want to make the playoffs, that's our goal."
Friday's nights contest was a contrast in halves, as both offenses struggled in the first two quarters.
North Clayton scored the only points of the first half when Burnett found the end zone on the first of his two touchdowns with 1:10 remaining until the break.
Lovejoy took possession of the football, and moved the ball quickly into the red zone, but time ran out before the Wildcats were able to score.
Things changed in the second half, as Lovejoy scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to grab the lead.
Octavius Edge helped Lovejoy tie the game at 7-7l with a 14-yard run. With 3:40 remaining Josh Dubois kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 10-7 lead.
Greg Wilson helped answer for North Clayton with the longest touchdown run of the night when he scampered 64 yards with 1:18 remaining in the first third quarter.
Although the game featured two of the state's best quarterbacks, both squads did most of their damage on the ground.
Dominque Randolph rushed for 137 yards for North Clayton and Octavius Edge had 104 yards. Fannin had 98 yards rushing for Lovejoy.
"It's a shame somebody had to lose this football game," said Shockley. "Both teams played their hearts out. Lovejoy has a heck of a football team."