Peachtree Ridge shows improvement across the board in 31-2 in win

ROSWELL -- After showing glimpses of quality in many areas in its opening game two weeks ago, Peachtree Ridge was looking for a little bit of quality in every phase of the game in Game 2 against Roswell.

And the Lions put forth about as balanced an effort as they possibly could.

The offense succeeded both on the ground -- led by Diandre Atwater's 146 yards and a touchdown -- and in the air -- with Billy Best completing 6 of 8 passes for 115 yards and a score -- while the defense clamped down on both area's of Roswell's attack, limiting the Hornets to just 109 yards of total offense.

Even the Peachtree Ridge kicking game was strong in the Lions' 31-2 victory Friday night at Ray Manus Stadium.

"You go into these games and you try to see what you're going to establish," said Mark Fleetwood, who celebrated his first victory as the Lions' head coach. "I'm trying to mix it up a little, too. I want to be able to throw and run whenever we want to, and not just when people think we are."

Peachtree Ridge (1-1) did both quite well, rolling up 327 yards on the ground and 115 through the limited passing game.

The Lions were especially dominant in a first half in which they outgained Roswell (0-2) 281-63 with contrasting styles.

The Lions' offense scored with quick strikes in the first quarter.

Joe Horn got Peachtree Ridge on the board at 7-0 by outleaping a pair of Roswell defenders to grab a Best pass along the right sideline and then sprinted the rest of the way for a 61-yard scoring strike with 6:13 left in the first quarter.

After sacks by Denzel Oziah and Darian Pogman backed Roswell deep in its own territory and forced a punt on the ensuing possession, Ahmaad Harris struck quickly by fielding the punt on the Hornets' 42 and sprinting through the coverage for a score to extend the lead to 14-0 at the 4:01 mark.

In the second quarter, the Lions were much more methodical.

First came an eight-play, 94-yard drive that ate up 3:02 spanning from the first quarter to the second quarter before ending with Connor Rouleau's 28-yard field goal, pushing the Lions' lead to 17-0 with 10:15 left in the half.

The next Peachtree Ridge drive was even more workmanlike.

This time, the Lions marched 82 yards in 10 plays, taking up an even four minutes and keyed by a generous mix of Atwater and the running game and Best through the air.

The drive ended when Best sneaked in from a yard out with 4:10 left in the half, giving Peachtree Ridge a 24-0 lead it took into halftime.

And Atwater applied the finishing touch in the second half.

After Best gained 5 yards on an option keeper, he pitched late to the 5-foot-9, 195-pound senior, who sprinted the remaining 55 yards for the score that pushed Peachtree Ridge's lead to 31-0 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.

"The last time (in a loss to Walton in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 20), we made some mistakes mentally and fundamentally," Atwater said. "So, we worked hard this week this week just to correct the little errors, the little angle stuff. We just executed."

The same can be said of the Peachtree Ridge defense, which stuffed Roswell's running game to just 47 yards and sacked Hornets quarterback Ryan Monty seven times.

"The last (game), we felt the (linebackers) didn't come through like was should have," said one of those Lions linebackers, Pogman, who recorded four of the team's sacks on the night. "We just focused on stopping the run and rushing the passer. We just worked harder and harder."

Even the Lions' special teams unit lived up to its name, as kicker Connor Rouleau converted 1 of 2 field goal attempts and sent 5 of 6 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, while returners accounted for 130 yards, not included a second punt return for a score by Harris that was called back on a penalty.

In fact, the 13 penalties whistled on Peachtree Ridge, plus a safety on a bad shotgun snap into the end zone that accounted for Roswell's only score late in third quarter, were about the only things that went wrong for the Lions on the evening.

But Fleetwood said his team will get back to work to correct those mistakes.

"We've still got a ton of work to do," Fleetwood said. "We've got a really good Newnan team coming in (next week). It's Labor Day (on) Monday, so we will be laboring."