The Alpharetta Raiders are playing like it’s 2017.
The Raiders opened the game with a dominant first half and coasted to a 48-0 win on Friday over the Centennial Knights in Region 7-AAAAAA at Centennial High Stadium.
With the win, the Raiders (3-2) are 3-0 in league play for the first time since 2017, the last year they won Region 7. The Knights, on the other hand, drop to 0-5, 0-3 and are headed toward their first losing season since 2013, when they finished 1-9. They’re also in danger of missing the playoffs after three consecutive seasons qualifying.
The Raiders have done a 180-degree turn since beginning the season with losses to Milton and Lanier, when they were outscored 68-0.
“This is especially important to us since we started 0-2,” said senior quarterback Will Gerdes, who completed 15 of his 21 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns to no interceptions. “A lot of people were counting us out and doubting us...But the fact that we’re 3-0 and taking care of the region, I think we have a real chance to make a run.”
The Raiders jumped to a 27-0 lead they’d take to halftime, taking advantage of uninspiring play by the Knights. On their second possession, the Raiders went up 10-0 when Gerdes connected with a wide-open Matteo Carriere down the middle of the field for a 79-yard touchdown. On the Knights’ busted coverage, Carriere ran straight down the middle of the field with no defender within 30 yards of him.
The Raiders would go up 20-0 with 1:35 left in the half on another busted coverage when CJ Dobard streaked down the sideline uncovered for a 18-yard touchdown reception. The drive was set up when, on fourth-and-5, the Knights attempted a fake punt run that went only three yards, giving Alpharetta the ball on their own 42.
The Knights couldn’t capitalize on Raiders’ early miscues, either. The Raiders faced a fourth-and-3 from their own 30 and lined up to punt, but a bad snap sent the ball into the end zone. Raiders punter Bryce Troutt fielded the ball in the end zone, and the Knights had a chance to tackle him for a safety, but allowed Troutt to run it out to the 12 for a turnover on downs. Three plays later, Knights quarterback Zaire Goff threw one of his three first-half interceptions.
The Knights converted just three first downs in the first half.
The Raiders scored their last touchdown of the first half with 0:07 remaining on Gerdes’ 22-yard strike to CJ Dobard in coverage.
For good measure, the Raiders tacked on three additional touchdowns in the second half.
Carriere’s one catch was good enough to lead all receivers because Gerdes spread out his completions to eight different players. Kevin Howard had four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Merrell led all rushers with 57 yards on 12 carries, including a five-yard touchdown run.
Troutt kicked field goals of 35 and 25 yards and was 6-for-6 on extra kicks.
Alpharetta 17 10 14 7 — 48
Centennial 0 0 0 0 — 0
A — Bryce Troutt 25 FG
A — Matteo Carriere 79 pass from Will Gerdes (Troutt kick)
A — Kevin Howard 37 pass from Gerdes (Troutt kick)
A — Troutt 35 FG
A — CJ Dobard 22 pass from Gerdes (Troutt kick)
A — Dylan Merrell 5 run (Troutt kick)
A — Slocum 4 pass from Gerdes (Troutt kick)
A — Carlos Moreland 4 run (Troutt kick)
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Centennial’s record.
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