LOGANVILLE - Apalachee had difficulty stopping Loganville's Storm Johnson most all night - until it really had to.
The visiting Wildcats snuffed the Red Devil running back's two-point conversion run up the middle to prevail, 42-41, in overtime.
The win kept the unbeaten Wildcats atop Region 8-AAAA at 7-0 and on course for a potential home playoff berth awarded region champions and runners-up.
"I want to host a home-field playoff game," Wildcats coach Shane Davis said. "I want these seniors, and especially our community, to have a chance to play a playoff game at home."
Apalachee went a game deep into the playoffs in 2006 and '08, and even two deep in '07, but all on the road. The Wildcats (7-0, 7-0) hope to stay their course against visiting Heritage next week, just as they did against the defending region champion Red Devils (4-3, 4-3), who rallied from two touchdowns down to force overtime.
Johnson, who ran for 278 yards and four TDs, gave the Devils a chance to win at the very end. After his 1-yard scoring run matched John Ansley's 15-yard TD scamper on both teams' first possession of overtime, Apalachee's defense stiffened and didn't let Johnson in on his conversion run attempt. The stop essentially cemented Apalachee into at least one of the region's four playoff spots.
"You can tell (Apalachee players) are strong, thick kids," Devils coach Eric Godfree said. "They're rarely out of place on the field."
Johnson gave the Wildcats fits all night, tying the game 7-7 on a 38-yard run with 3:49 left in the first quarter, then 21-21 on an 18-yarder with 6:47 to go in the third. His 11-yard scamper gave Loganville its only lead of the contest, 27-21, and his 1-yard blast brought the Devils as close as they would come.
Jon Lee led Apalachee with 153 yards rushing and three TDs, including 3- and 8-yarders in the fourth quarter. His last score put Apalachee up 35-27, but A.J. Schmidt's 38-yard pass to Clay Garner and Johnson's two-point conversion run tied 35-35 and forced overtime.
The Wildcats capitalized on two takeaways in the first half to lead 21-14 at intermission. Tony Hoard's fumble recovery at Apalachee's 46-yard line, set up brother Christian's 30-yard TD run for a 14-7 lead 10:37 before halftime. A.J. Lotspeich's interception with 7:52 left in the half prefaced Lee's 24-yard scoring run for the Wildcats' biggest lead, 21-7.