Clayton Ethridge tries to break into open field in Kennesaw Mountain’s win over Sprayberry on Friday.
Special photo by Anthony Stalcup
KENNESAW — Kennesaw Mountain battled to a season-opening win over Sprayberry for the third straight season, winning 28-23 on Friday.
“I think we controlled the ball up and down the field, pretty much, all night,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “We had two costly turnovers, but at the same time, I bet our snaps were double what they had.”
The Mustangs (1-0) moved 80 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the contest. An 11-yard run by Devin Steed put Kennesaw Mountain on top, 7-0.
When the Mustangs got the ball back, they put together another scoring drive. Nigel Hayes capped off the 70-yard effort with a 6-yard scamper, making it a 13-0 game.
After the Yellow Jackets (0-2) gave the ball up on downs, they got it right back when Bryan Williams recovered a Kennesaw Mountain fumble. From there, Sprayberry went from its own 39-yard line to the Mustangs’ 10 before settling for a 27-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship, trimming its deficit to 13-3.
An interception by Corey Atkins gave the Yellow Jackets possession at their own 28-yard line, but the drive ended with an unsuccessful fake punt, giving the Mustangs the ball at their 39.
Following a Kennesaw Mountain punt, Sprayberry’s Andrew Pereira threw a short pass to Rakeem Myricks, who took it 90 yards for an electrifying touchdown, pulling the Yellow Jackets within 13-10 just before the intermission.
On the second drive after halftime, Kennesaw Mountain covered 94 yards with A.J. Malone scoring on a run from 4 yards out. Hayes ran for a 2-point conversion to increase the Mustangs’ lead to 21-10.
Sprayberry answered with a 69-yard scoring drive that concluded when Pereira found Jontae Williams on a 64-yard pass play, making the score 21-16.
On the next drive, Kennesaw Mountain went 80 yards for another touchdown, this one on a 14-yard run by Hayes, giving the Mustangs a 28-16 advantage.
The Yellow Jackets came right back with an 81-yard drive of their own. Pereira’s 59-yard sprint to the end zone on a fourth-and-31 play tightened things up, 28-23, with 2:07 left.
But Kennesaw Mountain claimed the victory by pouncing on an onside-kick attempt by Sprayberry and running out the clock.
“It’s a tough loss,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “We gave ourselves a chance, and our guys kept fighting. Our guys keep battling, and I believe that persistence will get us rolling. I’m proud of my guys.”