CUMMING - After last week's disappointing loss to Mill Creek, Peachtree Ridge took its frustrations out on North Forsyth on Friday night by pummeling the Raiders 55-20 to lock up a state playoff berth.
The win improved the Lions to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in Region 7-AAAAA and locked the Lions into the region's fourth playoff spot. North Forsyth, which was already out of playoff contention, fell to 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the region.
"We bounced back real good after last week and we got to work on a lot of things tonight," Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Ballard said. "We got to play a lot of kids and that's something that will help us because we are a real young team."
The Lions' passing game was especially effective as Peachtree Ridge threw for five touchdowns. Asher Clark led the charge with a nearly perfect night, completing 8 of 9 passes for 181 yards and three TDs.
Two of Clark's TD passes went to Derrick Bryant on plays of 30 and 77 yards, while backup Chris Brunatti, who was 5 of 7 for 36 yards in the second half, added another scoring toss in the fourth quarter to Micah Lampton.
However, it was a botched play on special teams early in the game that got the ball rolling for the Lions. On its opening drive, Peachtree Ridge drove down to the Raider 26 and stalled, setting up Greg Johnson's 43-yard field goal attempt.
The snap to holder Nick Lombardo was low and he was forced to scramble left and found an open Connor Norman around the 10-yard line who ran in the rest of the way for the score. It wasn't exactly how Ballard drew up the play, but he was pleased with the results.
"We didn't plan it that way but we do practice what to do on bad snaps," Ballard said. "Our backup quarterback (Lombardo) was in at holder and he did the right thing."
After that play, the Lions rolled. On their next possession, Brandon Davis capped off a quick four play, 53-yard drive with a 27-yard TD run. Davis, who played just the first two quarters, led the Lions in rushing with 58 yards on six carries and one TD.
Leading 14-0 after the first quarter, the Lions blew it wide open in the second with 21 more points. Bryant scored twice on TD passes from Clark, the first a 30-yarder and the second a thrilling 77-yard bomb down the right side that saw Bryant, who caught five passes for 125 yards, shake a tackler around the Raider 30 and cruise in the rest of the way.
Brad Roby also got into the scoring with a 36-yard TD pass from Clark midway in the second quarter while opening up the second half with an exciting 92-yard kickoff return.
The defense even chipped in as Brian Williams picked off an Eli Chester pass and ran it in from six yards out for the TD. Chester would later stop some of the bleeding as he accounted for two of North Forsyth's scores. The first of those was a 6-yard pass to Tyler Slaton while adding another TD early in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard run.
PEACHTREE RIDGE 55
NORTH FORSYTH 20
Peachtree Ridge: Connor Norman 26 pass from Nick Lombardo (Greg Johnson
Peachtree Ridge: Brandon Davis 27 run (Johnson kick) 1:18
Peachtree Ridge: Derrick Bryant 30 pass from Asher Clark (Johnson kick)
Peachtree Ridge: Brad Roby 36 pass from Clark (Johnson kick) 3:14
Peachtree Ridge: Bryant 77 pass from Clark (Johnson kick) 2:15
Peachtree Ridge: Roby 92 kickoff return (Johnson kick) 11:46
North Forsyth: Tyler Slaton 6 pass from Eli Chester (Corey Reins kick) 7:13
Peachtree Ridge: Brian Williams 8 interception return (Johnson kick) 2:11
North Forsyth: Chester 13 run (Reins kick) 11:16
Peachtree Ridge: Micah Lampton 10 pass from Chris Brunatti (kick failed)
North Forsyth: Steven Hester 3 run (kick failed) :06