The Lions overcame their final obstacle as they won their first state football championship since 1970 with a 14-7 victory over Lamar County in the Class AA title game at the Georgia Dome last Saturday.
“It feels great – it’s even better than I thought it would be,” Lovett running back/cornerback Grant Haley said. “You dream about this every day when [you] get to practice. It’s one of the greatest things that I have had in my life.”
Lovett (14-1) certainly didn’t take the easy road to its state crown as it successfully navigated a gauntlet of a schedule that included eventual AAAA semifinalist Marist as well as last year’s AAA runner-up St. Pius and AAA powerhouse Blessed Trinity.
The Lions’ lone loss came against this year’s eventual AAA runner-up Washington County – a 36-33 defeat in overtime.
“I’m so proud of our kids – our kids and our coaches,” Lovett coach Mike Muschamp said. “That was a grueling schedule that we went through. You have to be prepared mentally and physically to go through something like that and it doesn’t just start Aug. 1 – it starts in January. The kids did a great job preparing for that, the way they handled each week. The kids did a great job all year and the culmination of that was [the state title].”
Haley – a Vanderbilt commitment – rushed for 131 yards on 22 carries and scored on a 41-yard run in the third quarter that gave the Lions their winning margin.
Murphy Lee rushed for 96 yards on 23 carries, while Willie Candler completed eight of nine passes for 77 yards and a touchdown to lead the Lovett offense.
Defensively, Charlie Ingram led the way for the Lions with six tackles, while Bear Jameson had four and a half tackles and Jack Gearon contributed four.
Candler helped Lovett get on the scoreboard first when he threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Jack McGranahan, with Cole McGowan adding the extra-point kick, to give the Lions a 7-0 lead with 9:07 remaining in the first quarter.
Lamar County struck back on the next offensive series when Quentin Frazier scored on an 11-yard run and Tyler Scandrett kicked the extra point with 5:21 left to tie the game at 7.
The Lions achieved their state title through good, old-fashioned, hard-nosed football as its defense held a normally high-powered Lamar County offense to just 182 yards of total offense, neutralizing quarterback Lance Austin and running back Lawrence Austin – twin brothers who have committed to Georgia Tech – in the process.
Lovett was just as old school on offense with a grinding running game – passing the ball just once in the second half.
“I’m proud of what we were able to do [Saturday],” Muschamp said. “Lamar County is so fast and their kids play so hard. I felt like the best thing that we could do is go right at them. We had to mix in the pass enough to keep them honest. Towards the end, we were afraid of turnovers, because they come back at you so fast and we were controlling the football and executing so well, so we decided to grind it up.”