North Gwinnett loses heartbreaker to Chattahoochee 10-7

ALPHARETTA - After opening the season with seven scoreless quarters, Chattahoochee's offense scraped for 10 points in the fourth quarter Friday night against North Gwinnett as the Cougars slipped past the Bulldogs 10-7 in the Region 7-AAAAA opener for both teams.

In addition to coming up with points when it needed, Chattahoochee also received a big effort from its defense, holding an explosive Bulldog offense to one score.

Statistically, the edge went to North (1-1, 0-1) as the Bulldogs tallied 284 total yards (208 passing, 76 rushing), to 188 (125 passing, 63 rushing) for the Cougars. North also won the battle of first downs, nipping Chattahoochee 14 to 13, but the Cougars notched seven of those in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Trailing 7-0 with 10:49 left to play, Chattahoochee took over on North's 48 and used six plays to score its first points of the season, capping off the drive with 8:50 remaining on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Alex Matos to Kenny Hayes.

The Bulldogs took over on the ensuing possession on their own 24 and moved the ball 21 yards to their own 45 before bogging down. Chad Gross came in to punt for the sixth time and pinned the Cougars deep on their own 8-yard line with 5:49 remaining.

Chattahoochee (1-1, 1-0) responded by putting together its best drive of the night, moving the ball all the way to the Bulldog 18-yard line on 15 plays. North helped the Cougars along the way, committing four penalties for 25 yards, including two offsides on third down that gave Chattahoochee first downs.

With 13 seconds left, the Cougars called up Jordan Utley for a 35-yard field goal attempt. Utley missed from 44 yards out late in the second quarter, but came through on his second try of the night, splitting the uprights with eight seconds left for the 10-7 margin.

"Every drive we had one breakdown that killed us," North head coach Matt Moore said. "We just weren't clicking at all on offense. Our defense played their hearts out but we tried to lean on them too much and left them out on the field too long."

North also committed two turnovers, the first being the most costly. Facing a fourth-and-goal from inside the Cougar 1-yard line, Bradd Schlosser tried to force a pass to the right side but had it picked off by Chris Counts at the goal line.

Schlosser, who had 208 yards passing on 17 of 25 attempts with one TD and one interception, redeemed himself three possessions later when he led the Bulldogs on an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Schlosser hooked up with R.J. Bastone on a 1-yard TD pass with four seconds to go before halftime for a 7-0 lead.

Schlosser connected with five different receivers, including six completions to David Montgomery for 61 yards, four to Cameron Demps for 83 yards and four more to Crawford Kilpatrick for 34 yards. However, North's offensive line had trouble giving Schlosser time to throw the deep ball as Schlosser was sacked four times.

Montgomery led North in rushing with 90 yards on 19 carries while Chattahoochee was led by 72 yards on 22 carries from Katoro Sai. Matos threw for 125 yards on 14 of 20 attempts with one TD on no interceptions.