Alpharetta 38, West Forsyth 6
Alpharetta 10 14 14 0–38
West Forsyth 0 0 0 6–6
A: FG Kopec 32, 9:59
A: Cobb 1 run (kick good), 5:53
A: Smith 1 run (kick good), 10:40
A: Butcher 1 run (kick good), 8:03
A: King 32 pass to Suter (kick good), 7:24
A: King 4 pass to Cave (kick good), 3:19
WF: Grinstead 26 pass to Broxson (kick missed), 0:33
Last Friday, it was Mill Creek fumbling away its first snap from scrimmage; the Hawks still beat West Forsyth handily.
This Friday, West fumbled the ball away on their first play. It was a harbinger of what was to come.
Alpharetta took advantage of Wolverine quarterback Hampton McConnell’s second quarter injury and used five first-half West turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions, one on downs) to secure a 38-6 win over their region rivals on Friday at The Den.
"Forcing those turnovers early was huge," first-year Alpharetta head coach Jacob Nichols said. "We won the field position battle and that made play calling so much easier."
After West (0-2, 0-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) botched a quarterback-center exchange on the first snap, Alpharetta (1-1, 1-0) jumped in front on Ryan Kopec’s 32-yard field goal. Alec Coburn sacked Alpharetta quarterback Austin King on third down to prevent any further damage.
The Raiders forced a quick three-and-out and started their second drive in West territory. King ran for 10 yards on first down and hit NeSean Crawford for a 14-yard gain before Lemuel Cobbs (9 carries, 34 yards, TD) powered in from one yard.
West’s Austin Reid returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards. Three plays later, the Wolverines made a peculiar call. Facing 4th-and-8 at the Alpharetta 36 and down two scores, the Wolverines called a quarterback draw that gained just two yards.
Alpharetta again drove using a healthy mix of run and pass. Running back Miles Smith (10 carries, 31 yards, TD) converted a 4th-and-1 and Cobbs powered his way to the West 1, but King (12-for-18, 137 yards, 2 TD, INT) scrambled left and fumbled into the end zone. Wolverines linebacker Austin Roper recovered.
"We’ve got to get better in the red zone," Nichols said. "We needed to be able to put more points on the board and not squander opportunities. It would’ve been a lot comfortable earlier for us."
Smith and defensive end Andrew Butcher, a Tennessee commit, added 1-yard rushing touchdowns early in the second quarter for Alpharetta.
"Our game plan was to establish the run, and we stuck with it," Nichols said. "It wasn’t always pretty but it was effective at the end of the day."
Then came the dagger. With seven minutes to play in the first half, McConnell rolled to his right, threw deep over the middle and was hit hard after he threw. Four West trainers and head coach Adam Clack stood hunched over a prone McConnell for several minutes before helping the woozy senior to his feet and to the locker room.
"We’re a quarterback-driven team, and it’s so hard to prepare for something like that," Clack said. "It’s the nature of high school football where you have sophomores backing him up, and we just didn’t have time to get them ready to play this early against this competition. I was so proud of how those guys stepped up."
Clack said after the game that McConnell was dazed by the hit but that he never lost consciousness and had clear vision and speech at halftime. McConnell warmed up on the sideline before the second half, but Wolverines doctors said it was best to save him for another day.
"The one guy we feared could get them going was McConnell," Nichols said. "We knew if we kept them one-dimensional, we would be successful. The defense got after it."
West’s defense held up well before halftime to keep the Raiders at bay. Roper intercepted Austin King at the West 10, one play after Butcher recovered a Wolverine fumble.
Sophomore quarterback Hank Flood—wearing a junior varsity jersey—marched West to the Alpharetta 12 with less than 30 seconds to play in the first half. Raiders safety William Downing stepped in front of a slant and took off with a free path to the end zone, 90 yards away. West slot back Grant Anderskow caught up with Downing 55 yards later and stripped him from behind as the half ended.
If any doubt remained, a botched West punt snap gave Alpharetta possession in Wolverines territory with four minutes gone in the second half. King hit Rustin Suter down the seam for a 32-yard touchdown and a 31-point lead.
The Wolverines’ only consolation came with 33 seconds left in the game when quarterback Jacob Grinstead threw as he fell out of bounds to Garrett Broxson for a 26-yard score.
"Things aren’t falling our way right now, and we’re getting the fight taken to us a little bit," Clack said. "I want to go on record, right now: my team competed tonight. They freakin’ competed to the final whistle."