Upset- minded Indians can’t finish
by Doug Gorman
HAMPTON—For nearly 36 minutes, the East Coweta High School Indians appeared ready for an upset Friday night against the Lovejoy Wildcats on the artificial turf of Twelve Oaks Stadium.
But it’s the final 12 minutes of a 39-35 loss the Indians will rather forget.
Trailing 35-27 heading into the fourth, Lovejoy scored two touchdowns in less than nine minutes to seal its come-from-behind win.
The go-ahead score for Lovejoy (3-1) came when quarterback Quintarius Neely connected with Preston Williams on a 27-yard scoring strike to put the Wildcats ahead with 33 seconds left.
East Coweta (1-3) had one last chance to put something together in the last few seconds, but the Wildcats stopped the Indians’ last-ditch effort and the ball went back to Lovejoy on downs.
“I’m proud of the effort,” East Coweta head coach Clint Wade said. “We just didn’t execute at times, and you can’t do that against a team like Lovejoy.”
The loss spoiled an outstanding effort from Indians senior Markell Boston, who had touchdowns on both sides of the ball.
Bryce Gemmel also had a great day throwing the football, tossing for three touchdowns and 312 yards.
Lovejoy countered the Indians’ offensive punch with a stellar performance from Jeremiah Kirkland, who found the end zone on three touchdown runs.
Leading 28-20 at the the end of the first half, East Coweta appeared ready to throw the knockout punch when Gemmel hit Boston on a 59-yarder for the last of his three touchdown catches to open the second half.
The drive was kept alive after punter Cole Antley was roughed, giving the Indians an automatic first down.
Gemmel’s pass to Boston came on the first play after the penalty.
East Coweta scored the first three times it touched the football, marching on drives of 76, 68 and 65 yards, and added another on an interception return to lead 28-21 at the end of the first half.
The game started as a shootout, with both teams driving for touchdowns on their first series of the non-region game, but Lovejoy missed the extra point and East Coweta led 7-6 and stayed out front in the first half.
The Indians found the end zone the first two times they had the football thanks to the arm of Gemmel.
Gemmel's first touchdown came on a 46-yard scoring strike to Davion Jackson, then on and a 29-yard pass to Boston.
The junior quarterback also showed he could use his legs, converting a 3-yard run for the team's third trip to the end zone.
Boston then added points on the East Coweta side of the scoreboard when he stepped in front of a Neely pass and turned the interception into a 39-yard touchdown for a 28-13 lead.
Lovejoy started the game putting together an impressive drive that went 55 yards in six plays. Neely capped the drive with a 6-yard pass to Tremine Dillard, but a missed extra point only gave them a 6-0 lead.
It was the only time they led until their fourth-quarter comeback.
East Coweta answered the Wildcats’ scoring drive with one of their own to start its offensive fireworks.
Gemmel’s 42-yard strike to Jackson put the Indians in the lead for the rest of the first half.
The Indians’ defense put together one of its best series of the night, forcing the Wildcats to punt on just four plays into their second series to set up the Indians’ second touchdown.
East Coweta’s offense went right back to work as Gemmel navigated the field with a couple of long passes, hitting Boston on the 29-yard catch to cap the drive.
The Indians were never able to shake the Lions, who cut the lead to 14-13 on their final drive of the first quarter, marching 80 yards when Kirkland scored on a 3-yard run.
Gemmel showed he could also use his legs andw gave the Indians a 21-13 lead less than a minute into the second half when he finished off a drive with a 3-yard run.
Boston’s interception return midway through the second quarter gave him his second touchdown of the night and pushed the lead to 28-13.
However, Lovejoy cut the lead to 28-20 right before the break when it marched 68 yards, aided by a couple of East Coweta penalties.
Again, it was Kirkland, who put the exclamation point on the Wildcats’ scoring drive with a 2-yard run. East Coweta’s defense did its part early, forcing three Lovejoy turnovers.
Wildcats 35, Indians 28
East Coweta 14 14 7 7 — 28 Lovejoy 13 7 7 12 — 35
L —Tremine Dillard 6 pass from Quintarius Neeley 6 pass to (kick failed), 9:30
EC — Davion Jackson 42 pass from Bryce Gemmel (Jamie Nunez kick), 7:07
EC —Markel Boston 29 pass from Gemmel (Cole Antley kick). 4:50
L —Jeremiah Kirkland 3 run (kick good), 4:18
EC — Gemmel 3 run (Antley kick), 11:17
EC —Boston 39-yard interception return (Antley kick), 28-13, 6:10
L — Kirkland 2 run ( Nunez kick), .55
EC — Markel Boston 59 pass from Gemmel, (Cole Antley kick), 10:O9
L— Kirkland 5 run Kirkland (Antley kick), 1:56
L — Kevin Morris 25 pass from Neely (run failed), 9:43
L — Preson Williams 25 pass from Neely (pass failed), .33