Lovett 34, Kendrick 0: Lovett's ground game wears down Cherokees

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerNovember 22, 2013 

ATLANTA -- Kendrick traveled about 90 miles upstream, along the banks of the Chattahoochee River to Lovett's Kilpatrick Stadium to play the No. 1-ranked Lions and returned to Columbus on the short end of a 34-0 score in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.

The symbolism of playing upstream was not lost on Cherokees coach Jerry Dukes.

"We ran up against a better team tonight. Lovett is a really good team and we wish them the best of luck in the playoffs," Dukes said afterward. "On our end, I am not sure we were mentally ready to play this kind of game."

Kendrick began the game on offense, moving the ball for one first down before an Emmanuel Brown punt pinned the host Lions on their 3-yard line. Lovett would drive the ball 97 yards in 15 plays, taking a 7-0 lead on sophomore Jay Harris' 3-yard touchdown run at 3:03 of the first quarter.

Kendrick took the subsequent possession, driving to the Lovett 6, only to be stopped on a fourth-and-1. The Lions were able to flip the field on a first down and a 55-yard punt by quarterback Willie Candler to the Kendrick 23.

The Cherokees again drove in the Lions' territory on two first downs before Lovett's Grant Haley, a Vanderbilt commit, intercepted a Jonathan Hines' pass at the Lovett 28, returning it 27 yards. After the Lions gained one first down, Haley took it the distance, scoring from 33 yards out to make it 14-0, with 1:44 left in the half.

Lovett nearly took a 21-0 halftime lead into the lockerroom, but Haley's 82-yard run from scrimmage, following a Cherokee three-and-out, was negated by a holding call.

The Lions received the second-half kickoff, driving 60 yards in seven plays, taking a 21-0 lead on a 4-yard TD run by Candler. Another three-and-out by the Cherokees saw Lovett begin its next possession at its 20, but Candler, who was 8-for-12 passing on the night, would move the Lions downfield on an 11-play drive culminating in a 9-yard pass to senior receiver Jack McGranhan.

Lovett would complete the game's scoring with 5:11 to play, when Candler hit junior tight end Will Geraghty from 6 yards out to complete another 11-play drive.

On the night, the Lions outgained Kendrick 391-94 in total offense, with 276 of the host's yard coming on the ground. Haley was the leading ball carrier with 111 yards on 10 carries.

Despite the result, Dukes was pleased with his team's progress during the season, and into the second round of the playoffs.

"I don't want this game to diminish anything our kids did during the season," Dukes said. "We feel the kids did a good job progressing during the year, and we can build off what they did this season."Friday at AtlantaKendrick 0 0 0 0--0

Lovett 7 7 13 7--34First Quarter

L-Jay Harris 3 run (Cole McGowan kick), 3:03Second QuarterL-Grant Haley 33 run (McGowan kick), 1:44Third QuarterL-Willie Candler 4 run (McGowan kick), 8:49

L-Jack McGranahan 9 pass from Candler (McGowan kick failed), 0:53Fourth QuarterL-Will Geraghty 6 pass from Candler (McGowan kick), 5:10

Team records: Kendrick 7-5. Lovett 11-1. Next: Kendrick's season ends. Lovett advances.

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