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PREP FOOTBALL: Lovejoy beats Mays, Riverdale and North Clayton have solid showings at Georgia State

Lovejoy wide receiver Antonio Jones (1) hauls in a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Stephin Craig in Saturday’s 27-26 win over Carver. | PHOTO: Kassel Leventhal

By Jamie Walker

ATLANTA, Ga. — The 2nd Annual Great Atlanta Bash took place at Center Park Stadium where the Georgia State Football Panthers play, but on Saturday it served as the host venue for three high school football games featuring programs from Clayton County and Atlanta Public Schools.  

All three games served as showcases for great talent all around the Metro Area, and though South Metro area schools went just 1 for 3 for the day, North Clayton, Lovejoy and Riverdale all represented the Southside well.  

BEST Academy Eagles 26, North Clayton Eagles 0

Game one featured a battle for Eagle supremacy, as the North Clayton Eagles took on the BEST Academy Eagles. BEST dominated early and often, and quarterback Da’Von Hixson was a one-man show, hurting North Clayton with both his arm and legs. Hixson opened the scoring on a 1-yard run late in the 1st quarter, but BEST missed the extra point which kept the score 6-0.  On the opening drive for North Clayton, Quarterback Ryan Dye was intercepted by Ni’que Bell, setting up Hixson’s second score, another 1-yard run.  The two-point conversion was good, and it put BEST up 14-0.  

The North Clayton Eagles are still looking for their first win and first points of the 2020 season. PHOTO: Kassel Leventhal

Early in the 2nd quarter after back and forth exchanges, Hixson would go to the air as he hit Bell on a 20-yard scoring pass, another failed two-point conversion attempt left the score 20-0 going into the half.  

North Clayton came in with a squad that often showed its youth and inexperience, particularly on offense, as it wasn’t able to sustain drives regardless of showing some positive flashes.  The final score came in the 4th quarter on an interception by Kevien Zachary who returned it eight yards for a touchdown.

The loss dropped North Clayton to 0-2 with both losses being shutouts. The Eagles will look to improve their fortunes with another Saturday game at Tri-Cities. The 7:30 p.m. kickoff will be Tri-Cities season opener.

Lovejoy Wildcats 27, Carver Panthers 26

In the 2nd matchup of the Bash—and arguably the most exciting—Lovejoy (2-0) overcame an early barrage of big plays from Carver to eke out a 27-26 win.  Carver running back Jarveous Brown started the scoring by capping off the game’s opening drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.  The extra point was no good.  Brown was solid all contest and proved to be hard to stop, especially early on.  

Lovejoy running back Trevon Kinchen looks for running room during the Wildcats’ 27-26 win over Carver Saturday at Georgia State. | PHOTO: Kassel Leventhal

It looked like things were going to get ugly for Lovejoy when Carver’s Derrick Dixon took a punt at his own 6-yard line and raced up the sidelines to the Wildcat 12, which set up Brown to score again from 7 yards out to put the Panthers up 12-0.  

Lovejoy finally would get on the board before halftime on a 7-play drive that ended when quarterback Stephin Craig hit wide receiver Keandre Haines on a 40-yard scoring strike to cut Carver’s lead to 12-7 going into the half.  

The Wildcats came out of the break fired up and took the third quarter’s opening drive down to the Carver 14 before stalling out and setting up for a field goal. Instead, Lovejoy faked it with Craig tossing a touchdown pass to Siian Crafton.  Lovejoy missed the extra point, but the trickery resulted in a 13-12.  

The two teams played to a stalemate for the rest of the quarter before fireworks ensued in the game’s final frame. 

Carver forced Lovejoy into a punt, and Romello Evans took 75 yards for the score. The Panthers were good on their two-point conversion to reclaim a 20-13.  After a couple of stalled drives, Lovejoy got the ball back with 7:37 left in the contest.  Four plays later Craig rifled a 40-yard bullet from Craig to receiver Antonio Jones, but could not convert the kick to tie it up, so the score was 20-19, Carver.  

But that’s when the Wildcats’ defense bowed up and forced Carver into a punt. Soon after, Craig found Quentavius Scandrett on a 75-yard touchdown bomb.  The Wildcats would convert the two-point conversion, giving them a 27-20 lead.  Not to be outdone, Carver answered when Tobias Fletcher took the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to the house, but Lovejoy’s defense saved the day again when it prevented Carver from scoring on the two-point conversion try. 

The Wildcats milked the rest of the clock to preserve the win. The win marked the fourth time in Carson’s seven seasons as head coach that Lovejoy’s started a season winning its first two games. Lovejoy will host Eagle’s Landing (0-2) and North Gwinnett (2-0) before traveling to Griffin on October (1-1) on October 2.

Mays Raiders 35, Riverdale Raiders 28

Riverdale quarterback Avaun Rucker dives for the end zone Saturday during the Raiders’ narrow loss to Mays at Georgia State. | PHOTO: Kassel Leventhal

The Great Atlanta Bash’s final game between the Mays and Riverdale Raiders featured plenty of fireworks and another near-comeback from a Clayton County school. But Mays’ defense was able to do just enough to hold off Riverdale and get a bounce-back win after last week’s season opening blowout loss to West Forsyth. 

It didn’t take long for Mays to flex its muscles on offense, as, on the 1st play of the game, quarterback Quintavius Johnson hooked up with Nagari Sophia on a 68-yard scoring strike that put Mays up 7-0 before you could get your popcorn.  After a Riverdale drive stalled, Mays got the ball back, but Johnson fumbled on a quarterback keeper.  The ball was scooped up by Kamari Murphy, and he raced 48 yards for the touchdown.  The extra point kick was no good, so the score was 7-6 Mays.  Mays did not waste time getting back on the board as tailback Triston Morgan weaved through the Riverdale defense before darting toward the end zone for a 67 yard touchdown.  The extra point kick gave Mays a 14-6 advantage. 

Mays’ quick-strike offense struck again when Danny Conley went 88 yards on one play for a score, and with a 21-6 lead, Mays seemed to be in command.  

After a couple of exchanged drives and turnovers, Riverdale’s defense forced Mays into a punting situation with 4:14 left in the first half. Three plays later, Riverdale quarterback Avaun Rucker hit Marcus Polite for a 16-yard score.  The two-point conversion pulled Riverdale within seven at 21-14.  

Riverdale wasn’t done before halftime, though, as the defense stymied another Mays possession, and after the punt, Rucker scored on an 8-yard keeper with less than a minute left in the first half that knotted the score at 21 at the break.

Late in the third quarter, Mays capped off an efficient scoring drive when Johnson scampered into the end zone from 22 yards out, helping Mays to a  28-21.  

In the fourth quarter, Riverdale tried to do its best Lovejoy impersonation by mounting another Clayton County comeback as Rucker found Fredrick Collins on a 25-yard touchdown pass to tie things up, the extra point was good, and the game was tied at 28. But Riverdale’s defense got victimized by the big play once more, when Mays used a 59-yard Johnson-to-Devin Miller connection to provide the game’s final margin.

The loss dropped Riverdale to 1-1 ahead of hosting 0-2 Drew Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

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Gabriel Stovall

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