The opening game of Region 6-AAAAAA play didn’t go the way that West Forsyth had hoped, as they lost to Alpharetta 31-17 Friday night at The Den.
"We just played a little flat early on," West Forsyth head coach Frank Hepler said.
The Wolverines (2-2, 0-1) had a tough time stopping Alpharetta running back, Lem Cobbs, as he ran for 152 yards on 23 carries. Cobbs had several big gains on the Raiders’ opening possession, which set up a 10-yard strike from Vito Priore to Andre Harton for the game’s first points.
Alpharetta used three quarterbacks, but juniors Priore and Austin King got the majority of the snaps.
Moments before the end of the first half, after a pooch-punt pinned the Raiders down on their own 1-yard line. It appeared the Raiders were just going to run the clock out and go into the half with a comfortable lead.
But on the ensuing play, third-string quarterback Elijah Burnette was fighting for extra yards when the ball was ripped out and picked up by West’s Jordan Harris, who ran it into the end zone, to cut Alpharetta’s lead to 17-10 with 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
Harris also added an interception and several tackles.
West junior quarterback Hampton McConnell had a solid game but was forced to scramble most of the night. He finished the game 12 of 21 for 110 yards passing while also tallying 75 yards on 16 carries with a rushing touchdown.
"I think they had a very talented defensive front," McConnell said. "They were getting back there getting pressure for sure. Props to them. We just have to block better and make more plays."
Making plays is definitely something the Wolverines can improve on. They only had two offensive plays that exceeded 20 yards the entire game.
"Offensively we were real close to breaking some big plays," Hepler said. "But we need to keep working and convert on some of those things. "
Running back Trevor O’Brien was another junior that provided some of the few bright spots for the Wolverines, as he tallied 105 yards on 22 carries.
Despite the loss, Hepler liked much of what he saw from his team but just wants to see it for all four quarters.
"We really came out and played better from the second quarter on," Hepler said. "I was proud of our guys. Alpharetta’s a great football team, and they have some great athletes, but we’ll be OK. We had some guys step up and make some good plays and cause some turnovers."
The dagger came when Austin King found Andre Harton for a 49-yard bomb to put the Raiders up 24-10 late in the third quarter. Harton made the most of his touches on the night, hauling in two receptions for 69 yards, and each going for a score.
"They played hard and they had great effort and got after us," senior offensive lineman Andrew Marshall said. "We played hard, but we just made some mistakes, but give credit to them, they did a good job."
Marshall, along with West’s coaches and players, was upset with the loss, but knows one game doesn’t define their season.
"We just need to build on hard work and get back after it Monday.," Marshall said. "You can’t dwell on one game. We have a lot of games left and a lot of season left. We can do it, we just got to finish drives, finish plays and finish games."
Hepler wants to use this game as a learning experience for his team and staff.
"We just need to look at the mistakes we made and try to learn," Hepler said.
"That’s why you take history class, so you don’t make the same mistakes in your future, so that’s what we’re going to look at, and try not to make the same mistakes down the road."