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Lovejoy unable to hold off Norcross for title
by Maurice Dixon
December 18, 2012 01:01 PM | 2131 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye<br>Lovejoy senior Alejandro Bennifield threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Norcross on Saturday.
Staff / Katherine Frye
Lovejoy senior Alejandro Bennifield threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Norcross on Saturday.
With 12 minutes left in the 2012 football season, Lovejoy appeared to be on its way to becoming the first state champion from Clayton County since 1987. But Norcross rallied to overcome the Wildcats’ 11-point lead and capture the Class AAAAAA championship 21-14 at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night.

Alejandro Bennifield threw for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns to fellow seniors Ju’Michael Ramos and Brandon Davis. Georgia Tech commit Travis Custis had 63 rushing yards for the Wildcats, who advanced to their second straight title game.

Senior Joseph Wilber threw two TD passes and Alvin Kamara rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown for Norcross, which won its first state championship.

Following a 6-yard touchdown pass from Bennifield to Davis in the corner of the end zone with 1:34 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats entered the final period with a 14-3 advantage and high hopes of redeeming themselves after last season’s title game loss to Tucker.

But with 7:17 to go, the Blue Devils began to shift the momentum in their favor when Wilber capped a seven-play, 60-yard drive with an 11-yard TD pass to Myles Autry for a 14-9 score.

Then after a Lovejoy punt, Norcross took the lead for good on a third-and-19 play when Wilber’s pass down the sideline went over the outstretched hands of Cimwon Whitehead and into Kamara’s grasp for a 61-yard touchdown completion for a 15-14 edge with 4:26 left.

Now looking to regain the lead, the Wildcats unfortunately turned the ball over on downs when Custis was stopped for a loss on fourth-and-1 at their own 31. Now in serious need of a stop, Lovejoy’s defense was unable to prevent a 16-yard run by Kamara on third down. With no more timeouts, the Wildcats’ best option was to let Norcross score and prevent a two-point conversion.

Therefore with 1:33 remaining, Kamara was given a free pass into the end zone but increased Lovejoy’s chances of pulling even with an excessive celebration penalty. As a result, Joseph Mahfood missed the long extra point and left the Wildcats with a chance to at least tie, if not win.

On the ensuing kickoff, Davis almost made that happen when he returned the kick 40 yards to the Blue Devils’ 47 with 1:18 to go. But on the fourth play of the drive, Bennifield was intercepted at the 30-yard line by Jaquan Frazier, ending Lovejoy’s title hopes.

After missing two opportunities to get on the scoreboard in the second quarter, the Wildcats reached the end zone just before halftime. With 1:30 remaining, Bennifield lobbed a pass down the sideline to Ramos, who was wide open, for a 60-yard score and a 7-0 lead.

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