Photo by Dennis Thomas
Lovejoy defensive back Cinwon Whitehead (No. 2) makes a tackle on Alpharetta’s Chico Scott in the first half of the 10th-ranked Wildcats’ 43-24 win Friday at Twelves Oaks Stadium.
LOVEJOY — Alpharetta had its big-play combination of quarterback Josh Dobbs and wide receiver Carlos Burse, but Lovejoy boasted its own blue-chip prospect in Travis Custis.
And that was good enough during Friday night’s non-region matchup at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
The workhorse senior tailback and Georgia Tech commitment stole the show in the night’s battle of future Division I college stars, rushing for a game-high 152 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries to pace the Wildcats to an impressive 43-24 decision over their visitors.
Custis, a powerfully-built 6-foot, 215-pound senior, was equally as effective all evening running through would-be tacklers as he was running around them.
He became stronger as the game wore on, totaling 84 of his yards and two of his three scores after the intermission as Lovejoy ran off 15 consecutive points over a stretch of the late second and third periods to assume command of the game.
“In the first half, I was just trying to figure out what the defense was setting up,” Custis said. “In the second half, I just kind of started going with the flow.”
Custis’ legs set the stage for Wildcats senior quarterback Alejandro Bennifield to take advantage of the Raiders run blitzes designed to slow him down.
The left-handed Tennessee-Chattanooga commitment completed 10 of 16 passes for 271 yards and two more scores as the winners improved to 2-1 going into next week’s date at East Coweta.
Alpharetta (1-2) trailed just 22-17 when it drove all the way to the Wildcats’ 3-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
The hosts then marched 97 yards the other way, with Custis capping the 14-play drive with a scintillating 12-yard scoring run that left one Raiders defender on the ground to grab at air as he raced by to score and push his team’s advantage to 29-17 with 1:50 left in the third period.
“That’s the way he plays the game,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said of Custis. “He’s a winner and he always thinks he’s better than the guy trying to tackle him.”
The Vanderbilt-bound Burse finished with five catches for 89 yards and a touchdown to pace the Raiders.
The game began slowly, but quickly turned into a track meet in the combustible second as the two teams combined for 36 points.
Custin got things started for the hosts, plunging in from two yards two plays into the period to give Lovejoy a 7-3 advantage.
Jonathan Griffin added another score from a yard out minutes as the Wildcats extended their lead to 14-3 and appeared ready to wrest control of the game.
The Raiders, however, weren’t about to go away so , easily, running off two consecutive touchdowns of their own within a four-minute span to pull ahead once again. Dobbs, an Arizona State commitment, teamed up with Burse for the go-ahead touchdown, rising above a smaller Lovejoy defender along the right sideline before pulling the pass in and racing into the end zone to complete the impressive 57-yard scoring play.
Not to be outdone, Bennefield took advantage of a blown defensive assignment to connect with an open Jeff Murphy for a 25-yard scoring toss that put the Wildcats ahead at the half at 22-17.