Westminster running back Ralph David Abernathy gashed Lovett for 234 rushing yards and three touchdowns to help upset the No. 3 ranked Lions 21-6 at Woodward Academy in College Park on Friday.
For the first time in the rivalry’s 22-game history that dates to 1960, the Battle of Buckhead was played outside the two campuses. Flood waters from the Chattahoochee River overwhelmed Lovett’s athletic facilities on Sept. 21 and forced the Lions to host homecoming night at Woodward.
Last week Westminster played a previously scheduled home game against Greater Atlanta Christian at St. Pius, and the Wildcats (3-2, 2-0 in Region 6-AA) will play Avondale at Marist next Friday.
Lovett and Westminster were familiar with Woodward’s digs -- The War Eagles opened the season with a split between the Lions and Wildcats. Lovett beat Woodward 23-13 in Week 1; Westminster lost 23-21 in Week 2.
A Lovett offense that had averaged 337 yards and 38 points a game could not establish any type of momentum against the Westminster pass defense. From kickoff Westminster appeared as the more comfortable team, pressuring Lovett quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff into three first-half interceptions. The senior had not been intercepted in 101 pass attempts through five games.
Carkhuff completed 13 of 32 passes for 226 yards, with almost half his total coming in the fourth quarter. He was hurried all evening and sacked by four Wildcats defenders.
“They came out prepared and manhandled us up front,” Lovett coach Mike Muschamp said. “We did not protect the ball well at all. They schemed us up and put us in a bad spot.”
Abernathy, a 5-6, 150-pound junior speedster, touched the ball on the Wildcats’ first five plays from scrimmage and scored on a 14-yard screen pass from William Linginfelter. Lovett forced third-and-27 against the Wildcats, but committed a personal foul to extend the Westminster drive. Abernathy scored two plays later.
Abernathy took a handoff and outran the Lovett defense for an 86-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and busted loose for a 51-yard run in the third quarter to give Westminster a 21-0 lead.
Abernathy accounted for 259 of Westminster’s 347 yards on offense.
“Ralph’s been doing it for us all year long,” Westminster coach Gerry Romberg said. “As soon as he gets a little daylight, he can take it to the house.”
Taylor Mack scored Lovett’s only touchdown on a 1-yard run with 3:37 left to play. Mack totaled 92 yards, including 68 on three receptions. Drew Stockton caught six passes for 87 yards.
The location of Lovett’s Oct. 30 home game against Avondale is still in question. Westminster will play Avondale at Marist next week and return to its home stadium for homecoming Oct. 23. Westminster extended the winning streak for road teams in this series to four, and has won 13 of the 22 games played in the series.
“We’ve had a wonderful outpouring of support from other schools and from all the different communities,” Muschamp said.