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Peachtree Ridge explodes in third quarter for win over Duluth

SUWANEE -- Emotions were riding high in the neighborhood rivalry between Peachtree Ridge and Duluth, but in the end it was the Lions securing at least the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAAAA with a 47-14 win at the Lion's Den.

The Lions (7-1, 5-0 region) held a 24-14 lead at halftime, but a 23-point effort in the third quarter allowed them to pull away and force a running clock in the fourth quarter.

"It was a nice win for us," said Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood. "We knew there would be a lot of emotion in the game."

Mistakes were the name of the game early as a fumble led to Peachtree Ridge's first touchdown, while deep bombs led to Duluth's first score.

On the second play from scrimmage, Duluth quarterback Anfornee Stewart fumbled the snap at the 45-yard line, as the ball was kicked around all the way back to the 11-yard line where the Lions' D'Aaron Hill scooped it up and took it in for the score.

However, Duluth (4-4, 2-3) answered right back using a 29-yard completion to Nick Whitaker and a 36-yard strike to Michael Randle. Those plays set up Stewart on second down to score from four yards out.

The Lions scored on their next drive, taking advantage of two personal foul penalties to score when Raham Dixon hit paydirt from five yards out.

However, Duluth answered again with the deep pass as Stewart found Randle for 58 yards, setting up a two-yard scoring run, tying the game.

Things got sluggish for both teams in the second quarter with personal foul penalties stalling drives for both teams. But, the Lions took advantage of another call later, setting up Connor Rouleau for a 46-yard field goal to give the Lions a 17-14 advantage.

"I felt like we needed to get the three points there," Fleetwood said. "If we could get those points and then stop them again, we could be in business."

After the field goal, the Lions' defense did come up with a stop as Christian Goodlett intercepted a pass by Stewart. Six plays later, Harris scored from the 1-yard line for his second touchdown, giving the Lions a 10-point advantage at halftime.

The momentum continued in the third quarter as the Lions took two plays to score. Walden Davis rushed for 57 yards on the first play and Harris scored from eight yards out, giving the Lions a 31-14 lead only 18 seconds into the second half.

Then, Peachtree Ridge's defense forced another of their three fumbles on defense, getting a safety as the ball went out of the back of the end zone.

The offense took advantage of getting the ball back, going 70 yards in 10 plays with Best scoring from the 1-yard line, and just like that, Peachtree Ridge had a 40-14 lead with 4:41 to go in the third quarter.

The Lions added one more score late in the third quarter, after another turnover by Duluth, as Best found Ahmaad Harris for a six-yard score.

"I'm proud of our kids for not showing panic early when the game was tied," Fleetwood said. "The defense really stepped up and gave us three short fields to work with in the third quarter."

Best finished the game 11-for-16 for 129 yards, while Davis had 82 yards on the ground.

For Duluth, Stewart completed nine passes for 235 yards. Randle had four of those catches for 112 yards.