“Ryder Stewart played in the quarterfinals against Grayson as a running back as a freshman,” Svehla said. “He is a junior now but this kind of environment is not going to be too big for him. He’s just a ball player. I was really proud of him tonight.”
Archer cut into the lead on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Justin Johnson to Brendan Rogers with 1:02 left before halftime, and that is all the offensive production that the Wolverine defense would allow. Tomlinson’s 4-yard pass to Hunter Green with 2:51 left in the third quarter expanded the lead and put the game out of reach.
“You have to have some defensive lineman who can eat up some blocks,” said Svehla of his defensive front keeping Archer at bay. “We are not real big up front, but those three guys up front allow the guys behind him to run and we have some guys behind them who can play.”
Tomlinson was 14-of-21 passing for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Ryder Stewart had 13 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown. Johnson was 17-of-24 passing for 148 yards and one touchdown for Archer.
North Atlanta 31, North Forsyth 27
North Atlanta trailed nearly the entire game, but big plays from big players in big moments proved the difference in its 31-27 victory against North Forsyth in the opening game of the Corky Kell Classic Thursday at West Forsyth.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids, man,” said head coach Jamie Aull. “They were locked in, they were in tune. Things didn’t look great the whole game, but they never flinched.”
Trailing 27-24 with 6 minutes left in the game, North Atlanta’s defense held North Forsyth on a fourth-and-4 situation after a clutch pass breakup from senior defensive back Carl Murray.
“Carl Murray,” said head coach. “Speed kills, man. The kid runs the fourth-fastest time in Class 6A. A lot of times he plays off a route to get a quarterback to throw it his way so he can break on it and get the pick. He didn’t get the interception, but he broke on it and got his hand in there and got our offense the ball and gave us a chance to win this game.”
On the ensuing drive, North Atlanta quarterback Trey Lennon paced the Warriors down the field with a few big-time plays.
“I can’t say enough about Trey Lennon,” he said. “We had a quarterback competition going in the summer, and after our scrimmage we made a change. I didn’t know how he would handle it, but he handled it like a pro. He worked even harder and got even more locked in. And then when he got this opportunity, he made the best of it.”
On the game-winning drive, Lennon’s 15-yard pass to Randolph Smith secured a first down . Then, Lennon faced a fourth-and-long but found a crease and ran 15 yards for the first down. His 25-yard pass to Hunter Davis gave the Warriors the first down at the 6-yard line and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 1:03 left gave North Atlanta the lead.
“With Randolph Smith making big plays and Hunter Davis making big plays, the defense, Xaden Benson picking two balls off,” Aull said. “The turnovers kept us in it because that was a good football team.”
The final defensive stand, punctuated by another pass breakup by Murray, secured the victory.
Collin Miller gave North Forsyth the early lead on a 3-yard run, but Lennon’s 8-yard touchdown run two minutes later tied the game. Miller scored again on a short run to give North Forsyth the 14-6 lead. Lennon passed to Smith on a 13-yard touchdown just before halftime to make it a 14-12 game.
North Forsyth took the 20-12 lead after a 17-yard touchdown pass from West Roberts to Cooper Eglian with 7:04 left in the third quarter. Lennon’s 3-yard run with 3:51 left in the third quarter pulled North Atlanta to 20-18. Miller scored on a 9-yard run to extend North Forsyth’s lead to 27-18. Early in the fourth quarter, Lennon passed to Smith on a 15-yard touchdown to cut into the lead 27-24 before the game-winning drive and defensive stop.
Lennon was 12-of-17 passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 16 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Smith had four catches for 50 yards and three touchdowns West Roberts was 17-of-31 passing for 204 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Miller had 12 carries for 45 yards and three touchdowns for North Forsyth.