Its 22-game region win streak on the line, Alpharetta was down and needed a drive. For the second straight week, sophomore quarterback Matthew Downing delivered.
Downing threw three touchdowns, two in the fourth quarter, and led the winning drive with two minutes to play to help the Raiders edge West Forsyth, 43-39, on Friday in a back-and-forth Region 6-AAAAAA thriller at Alpharetta.
Running back Nolan Edmonds, another of the Raiders' promising sophomore class, capped the victory with a 7-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left.
Trailing 21-7 at halftime, West Forsyth scored 25 straight points to start the second half and took a 39-36 lead with two minutes to play on a 50-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kiernen Hamilton to Garrett Broxton. Hamilton threw five touchdowns, four coming in a second half that saw the Wolverines go up by 11, 32-21, early in the fourth quarter.
But back came the Raiders, with Downing leading the way. Last week, Downing threw the winning touchdown pass with two minutes to play in a win over Milton. This week, he hooked up twice with Darryl Bivens on touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and then calmly led the seven-play, 70-yard winning scoring drive to make the Raiders 2-0 on the season. Downing finished 20 of 28 for 238 yards and the three touchdowns.
"Coach, just told me to keep cool, keep poised," Downing said about the two-minute drive. "I was more anxious than nervous. I love those type of situations, pressure situations."
Hamilton finished 12 of 16 for 284 yards and five touchdowns. Austin Reid caught three of Hamilton's touchdowns, including a 78-yard bomb on 3rd and 18 that opened the scoring in the second half. Chapman Lowe also caught a touchdown pass from Hamilton in the second half.
The Raiders jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a touchdown pass from Downing to Carlos Carriere and Harry Colkley's 34-yard interception return for a touchdown.
West Forsyth cut the deficit 14-7 on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Kiernen Hamilton early in the second quarter. But Alpharetta responded with 14-play scoring drive, capped by an Edmonds' 1-yard touchdown run
The Raiders are the two-time Region 6-AAAAAA champions and appear to be the early favorites again this season.
"We have a lot more chemistry than I thought," Alpharetta Jacob Nichols said. "Going into last week's game, I honestly didn't know where we stood as far as togetherness and team chemistry. They proved it to me last Friday that they had it, and they just did it again."
West Forsyth fell to 0-2 on the season.
Week 3 Game Recaps and Scores
- McEachern ends Buford's winning streak
- West Forsyth at Alpharetta: Alpharetta wins a close one
- Calhoun beats Carrollton in dramatic comeback
- Woodward Academy 36, St. Pius 29 (2OT) Game Recap
- Photos from Week 3 Games
- Find a score by team name or region
- Norcross 14, Milton 3 Game Recap
- South Gwinnett 20, Collins Hill 17 (OT) Game Recap
- Walker 21, King's Ridge 20 Game Recap
- Howard 30, Central-Macon 29 Game Recap
- More Game Recaps: Complete round up of Week 3 action
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