North Forsyth lost 35-21 to reigning region champs Alpharetta on a night where the seniors were honored and they shined.
North started off hot as they took a 14-7 lead after senior Cody Dwyer scored running the ball from two yards out. Unfortunately for North, things began to change after that.
After the Dwyer touchdown, both teams failed to get anything going on their next drives, but when North punted the ball away, Alpharetta’s Dejon Rowe picked the ball up at his own 49 yard-line, and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown and tied the game. It was all Alpharetta from there.
“That was kinda frustrating,” said North head coach Jason Galt. “Punt coverage has been a strength for us all season long. For some reason, we got down there and instead of touching the ball, we just kinda looked at it.”
Alpharetta would go on to score 28 unanswered points until North managed to score again with less than a minute left in the game.
North was only able to keep Alpharetta from pulling away by forcing three turnovers. Senior Zack Griffin had two interceptions and recovered the ball when Alpharetta threw a backward pass, inside the North five-yard line, that was dropped by the receiver, who was hit hard, and the ball bounced away from him, and Griffin recovered it.
Even with his game defensively, Griffin knows that the game is bigger than himself and that that it took a lot of people to get the team ready.
“I play for the team,” Griffin said. “It’s for them all. If it wasn’t for the coaches this season, that wouldn’t have happened. All of the coaches preparing; everyone just working incredibly hard.”
North’s running game worked well throughout, as the team ran for 155 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown. The passing game, however, was hit-or-miss, as Dwyer and starting quarterback Jacob Bailey went a combined 5 of 15 for 129 yards and two touchdowns, both thrown by Bailey, and one interception, also thrown by Bailey.
“Tonight was kind of a microcosm of our whole season,” Galt said. “We basically had missed opportunities all year long. We had chances tonight to score and get in the game, but we just didn’t capitalize.”
Alpharetta’s passing attack, on-the-other-hand, was actually good, despite the two interceptions and the botched backwards pass that went for a turnover. Their quarterback Matthew Downing went 11 of 18 for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Alpharetta’s senior receiver Darryl Bivens led all receivers in the game with seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns.
For North’s seniors, it was a tough way to end things, but Galt thinks they have nothing to be ashamed of.
“[The seniors] played their butts off,” said Galt. “That’s one thing about these kids: they never give up. They just fight and fight and fight. Just give us everything you have. Just give it your all and you should have pride.”