KENNESAW – The Alexander offense had a fourth-quarter comeback players dream of. But upsetting Harrison was just out of the Cougars’ reach.
Late in the fourth quarter, Mason Wood scored the game-tying touchdown before the go-ahead extra point.
However, Harrison’s Micah Davis responded with a difficult catch and evasive run to the end zone as the top-seeded Hoyas defeated Alexander 33-28 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs Friday at Bruce Cobleigh Stadium.
After trailing 24-7 entering the final quarter, the Cougars found themselves within six points when Wood completed an 8-yard pass touchdown pass to Jalen Morgan with four minutes left.
Then Alexander recovered the onside kick, which the referees initially ruled as Harrison’s ball but overturned the call, awarding the Cougars the ball at their own 49.
The coaching staff opted for Wood to use his legs, and on the fourth straight rush, the senior pushed his way into the end zone for a 4-yard score and 27-27 tie with 2:08 to go.
“Maybe I should have done a better job of seeing that earlier in the game but we saw it and we executed it,” Combs said.
Kade Austill added the extra point to put Alexander back in front for the first time since the first quarter.
But Harrison responded in stunning fashion when Gavin Hall threw a pass down the middle of the field to Davis, who leaped to haul it in then fought off the defense to just break the plane of the end zone for a 44-yard score with 44 seconds remaining.
“That is a good young quarterback,” said Combs of the sophomore Hall, who replaced injured Georgia commit Justin Fields. “The future is bright here.”
After the Hoyas failed the two-point conversion, Alexander started its final drive at its own 32. The Cougars moved the ball down to Harrison’s 12 with the help of a pass-interference call with no time left.
But on the final play, an untimed down, Wood (21 completions for 191 yards) didn’t get the pass off due to a game-ending sack by Will McCarty.
“People are going to say we didn't convert on the last play of the game but there were so many plays beforehand we should have converted,” Combs said. “But hats off to Harrison. Hats off to these Cougars. I'm proud of this team. I'm proud of who they are. I'm proud of the way they fight.”
In the third quarter, David Roberts (17 carries, 107 yards) and Hall (11 completions for 215 passing yards) extended the Hoyas’ narrow halftime margin with a touchdown run and pass, respectively.
Both teams executed well on their opening drives of the game, resulting in a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter.
Alexander reached the end zone first, using an up-tempo pace during a 16-play drive which ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Quinton Brown for a brief lead.
Harrison’s ensuing drive didn’t require as many plays but the possession was highlighted with a 37-yard pass from Hall to Steven Peterson, placing the ball at the Cougars’ 20. Three plays later, Davis capped the drive on a 5-yard sprint to pay dirt.
Alexander forced two turnovers, a fumble recovery and an interception by Gavin Dent, in the first half.