Peachtree Ridge and Duluth renewed their neighborhood rivalry Friday night in Suwanee.
At stake was more than bragging rights. Peachtree Ridge was competing for a guaranteed home game in the first round of the playoffs, while Duluth was battling to keep their playoff hopes alive in a crowded Region 7-AAAAA race.
Peachtree Ridge was successful by beating the Wildcats 47-14.
It was the defense that came up big for the Lions Friday. They forced five turnovers, led by D'Aaron Hill, who had a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception. After yielding 14 points in the first quarter, the Lions defense shut the door on the Wildcats en route to the victory.
The game began with a flurry of action as both teams reached the end zone twice in the first quarter. Hill started the scoring picking up a fumble on the 11-yard line and taking it to the end zone. The Duluth play started on the 45-yard line and the fumble touched several players hands before Hill finally picked up the ball.
The Wildcats marched down the field on the ensuing possession aided by their flanker speed and the arm of quarterback Anfornee Stewart. The Wildcats finished the drive with a 4-yard run by Stewart to tie the game at 7-7. The teams traded scores before the quarter ended and it looked like the game might turn into a track meet.
The first quarter also saw six unsportsmanlike and personal foul penalties for the opposing squads. Emotions cooled as the game entered the second quarter and the defenses settled to make a few stops. Michael Stewart of Duluth intercepted a Billy Best pass at the 9:49 mark of the second quarter while Christian Goodlett of Peachtree Ridge intercepted a Stewart pass at the 2:58 mark. The Lions cashed in on the Goodlett interception converting it into seven points in the waning seconds of the first half when Raham Dixon crossed the goal line for the second of his three touchdowns.
The Lions put the game out of reach in the third quarter by scoring 23 points to push their point total to 47. Walden Davis opened the second half with a 57-yard run down to the Wildcats 8. Dixon scored on the next play for his third touchdown.
Hill added an interception in the second half while Deante Brabham and RJ Murray picked up fumble recoveries for the Lions defense.
The Lions offensive effort totaled more 300 yards for the game. Best had 129 yards passing; Ahmaad Harris had six receptions. Dixon was the workhorse from the backfield carrying the ball 11 times for 55 yards and the three touchdowns. The Lions used 11 different rushers and had five different players with receptions.
Coach Mark Fleetwood commented after the game, “We made sure to stay focused on the task at hand and I'm proud of the kids.”
Commenting on the play of his defense, Fleetwood said, “That was really the turning point of the game — the short field."
Next week travels to Mill Creek, while Duluth hosts North Gwinnett.
PEACHTREE RIDGE 47, DULUTH 14
Peachtree Ridge: D'Aaron Hill 11 Yard fumble return (Connor Rouleau kick) 10:54
Duluth: Anfornee Stewart 4 yard run (Miles Starnowski kick) 7:54
Peachtree Ridge: Raham Dixon 5 yard run (Connor Rouleau kick) 2:29
Duluth: Anfornee Stewart 2 yard run (Miles Starnowski kick) 0:26
Peachtree Ridge: Connor Rouleau 46 yd FG 3:53
Peachtree Ridge: Raham Dixon 1 yard run (Connor Rouleau kick) 0:30
Peachtree Ridge: Raham Dixon 8 yard run (Connor Rouleau kick) 11:42
Peachtree Ridge: Defensive Safety out of back of end zone 10:42
Peachtree Ridge: Billy Best 1 yard run (Connor Rouleau kick) 4:41
Peachtree Ridge: Billy Best 6 yard pass to Ahmaad Harris (Connor Rouleau kick) 1:07
Region 7-AAAA Standings
(Through Oct. 21, 2011)
Team All Games Region
North Gwinnett 7-1 5-0
Peachtree Ridge 7-1 5-0
Norcross 6-2 3-2
Mountain View 2-6 1-4
Collins Hill 4-4 3-2
Duluth 4-4 2-3
Mill Creek 4-4 1-4
Meadowcreek 0-8 0-5
Suwanee Games-Oct. 28
Peachtree Ridge at Mill Creek
North Gwinnett at Duluth
Collins Hill at Norcross