MILTON, GA – After barely leading 10-7 at halftime, Alpharetta scored 31 straight points in route to a 41-21 victory over Cambridge. The win knocked the Bears (3-7, 3-5 Region 7-6A) out of playoff contention while Alpharetta (6-4, 5-3 Region 7-6A) secured a third seed.
"It is always tough to have your season end," said head coach Craig Bennett. "But our guys competed as always and we kept our heads up."
Alpharetta used a balanced offensive attack to continue the offensive pressure all game. After the Raiders jumped to a 10-0 lead, Zach Harris avoided the pressure up the middle and connected with Hayden Gardella for a 33-yard touchdown. "Harris had a really good game," said Bennett. "He got pressured a good amount and made some really nice throws in the face of pressure." Harris finished 15-for-31 with 261 passing yards and three touchdowns along with three interceptions.
The Bears may have led at halftime, but a failed fake field goal and a missed 40-yard field goal kept the score at 10-7.
Once the teams emerged from the locker room after halftime, Alpharetta looked like a completely different team. "The starter went down right before the start of the half so we talked about that and a few other adjustments at half," said Bennett. "But the starter was able to come back in and played really well."
The Raiders kicked a field goal on the opening drive of the second half, and then scored three touchdowns in a row. The Bears finally broke the streak with a 47-yard pass from Harris to Gardella, but Alpharetta still led 41-14 with only 4:49 remaining in the game. "I have to give them credit," said Bennett. "Their offense played extremely well and we had a couple turnovers in the third quarter that they took advantage of."
Phillip Michael Collins struggled to get going all game. Alpharetta stacked the box and blitzed constantly to limit Collins. Plus, the Bears were forced to throw when falling behind in the second half. Collins finished the season with 1001 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Bears look forward to even more production with Collins returning as a junior next year.
"We are very excited about our future," said Bennett. "We have some solid kids that will be great leaders for our program."
article by Jack Sadighian