Lovejoy wide receiver Preston Williams has 50 receptions for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns coming into Friday’s game against Lowndes at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
Lowndes vs. Lovejoy
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Twelve Oaks Stadium, Hampton
Records, rankings: Lowndes is 8-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and unranked; Lovejoy is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AAAAAA and No. 2 in the state.
Winner plays: Brookwood vs. Norcross winner
HAMPTON — Lovejoy and Lowndes enter Friday’s second round Class AAAAAA playoff game having experienced two different games in their first round wins last week.
While Lowndes coasted to a 38-10 win at East Coweta last week in the opening round, Lovejoy had a dramatic finish in the second-ranked Wildcats’ win over Marietta.
Lovejoy junior wide receiver Preston Williams caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Quintarius Neely on the final play of the game for a 27-23 victory at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
“I wasn’t going to let my team lose,” said Williams, who has committed to Tennessee.
“It’s a great win,” Vikings head coach Randy McPherson told the Valdosta Daily Times. “The kids played hard, the coaches had a great game plan, I’m just proud of them. I think we played our best game of the season tonight, without a doubt.”
This will mark the fourth time these two teams will meet in the postseason, the third time in the second round. Lowndes owns a 2-1 lead in the series, which dates back to 1999.
The first playoff game that Lovejoy coach Al Hughes lost came against Lowndes in 2001, and the first playoff game that Lowndes coach Randy McPherson lost came against Lovejoy in 2002. Lovejoy’s 43-3 victory in 2002 remains the most lopsided loss of McPherson’s Lowndes career.
Lowndes has won five state titles, it last coming in 2007.
“We got a history with them,” Hughes said. “They are a great program.”
Hughes said his team’s come-from-behind on Friday is sort of how the season has been for them.
“That has been par for this season for us,” Hughes said. “There are a lot of people that don’t believe in us because of what we graduated. We have a different football team with some new players playing key position. We got a bunch of guys that believe in themselves and in this team.”
Lowndes is a run-oriented team that is averaging 198 yards rushing per game and only 65.5 passing yards heading into the game. The Vikings have won five of their last six games with its only loss during that period coming to top-ranked Camden County in the last week of the regular season.
Lovejoy and Lowndes have three common opponents in Luella, Newton and Colquitt County. Both teams defeated Luella while Lowndes lost to Newton and Colquitt.
The Wildcats lost a close game to Colquitt in the second game of the season in the closing seconds.
“We are just looking at them as Team X on our schedule,” Lovejoy defensive end Randy Anyanwu said. “We respect their program and tradition, but we are going out there trying to win the game. We just have to take care of the football and eliminate our mistakes.”