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Lovejoy opens with 41-12 win over rival

Short-handed Wildcats get 41-12 win

Lovejoy running back Jeremiah Kirkland scores on a 5-yard run in the first quarter in the fourth-ranked Wildcats’ 41-12 win over Mundy’s Mill. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell)

Lovejoy running back Jeremiah Kirkland scores on a 5-yard run in the first quarter in the fourth-ranked Wildcats’ 41-12 win over Mundy’s Mill. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell)

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Mundy’s Mill wide receiver Eric Tate scrambles for some yardage against the Lovejoy defense at Twelve Oaks Stadium on Friday in the season-opener for both teams. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell)

HAMPTON — At times the Lovejoy Wildcats were sharp, but that is to be expected in season-openers.

The defense was without several key starters, who are recovering from injuries, but the fourth-ranked Wildcats picked up a 41-12 win over rival Mundy’s Mill on Friday before a standing room only crowd at Twelve Oaks Stadium.

Several fans had to be turned away for the season opener for both teams. It was the sixth straight season that Lovejoy has beaten their rivals.

Lovejoy was without linebacker DeMarquis Gates, nose tackle Chris Ellis and linebacker Randy Anyanwu. Ellis and Anyanwu are expected back next week when the Wildcats travel to Moultrie to take on top-ranked Colquitt County in a rematch from last season.

Gates, who has committed to Ole Miss, will likely be out a few more weeks while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Lovejoy quarterback Quantarius Neely made his first varsity start, and the sophomore directed the team on three first-half scoring drives. They had another stop at the Tigers’ 3-yard line late in the first half.

The Wildcats took a 27-12 lead into the halftime, as the special teams came through on a scoring play.

Neely, a transfer from Mays High in Atlanta, connected with junior Preston Williams and Jeremiah Kirkland on two first-half scoring plays.

A potential second scoring pass play to Williams was ruled incomplete, as defensive pass interference was called. However, the Wildcats were unable to punch the ball into the end zone after getting a fresh set of downs.

On a fourth-and-3 play late in the first half, Kirkland was stopped for no gain as the Tigers took over on downs.

Mundy’s Mill would march down the field, and RaeKwan Norman would catch a 6-yard scoring pass from quarterback Rodricous Gates with 1:05 remaining in the opening half.

Lovejoy would take a 27-12 lead into halftime after it elected to let the clock run out.

Kirkland opened the scoring in the game on a 5-yard touchdown reception with 5:16 remaining in the opening quarter, which took about 50 minutes to complete.

The Wildcats would extend their lead to 13-0 when Brandon Davis recovered a blocked punt by Aaron Davis in the end zone with 3:45 remaining.

Kirkland would also score on a 5-yard run in the first quarter.

Other scores:

Riverdale 41, North Clayton 6: Quarterback Greg Taylor accounted for four touchdowns as the Raiders defeated their rivals at Southern Crescent Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

The win was the first for new Riverdale coach Terry Herrod while it ruined the coaching debut of his counterpart James Soza.

Taylor threw for two scores and passed for a couple more in the win.

Jonesboro 43, Mount Zion 7: Cardinals quarterback Mario Atkinson passed for two touchdowns to lead them in the season opener at Tara Stadium. Atkinson connected with Jordan Griffin on a 30-yard pass play for a score. He also threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Montralious Moseley.

Aaron Mason had a 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown. The Cardinals got scoring runs from Rontavious Jordan and Artemus Mitchell.

Zerrick Cooper connected with Dominic Alexander on a 32-yard scoring play for the Cardinals.