COVINGTON - It was a big night for the Alcovy Tigers as well as Malachi Outlaw in their 38-21 win over the Forest Park Panthers on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
Not only did the Tigers keep their playoff hopes alive, but Outlaw became the first rusher in school history to break the 1,000 yard barrier.
With his 162 yards rushing on 15 carries on the night, Outlaw now has 1,050 yards for the season with one game remaining.
"I couldn't be happier for a better kid. I go back and I look at three years ago and here's Malachi as a 10th-grader having to play (Habersham Central), who's a state-ranked team. He bounced right back every game," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffmann said. "If anyone deserves it, he does. He's a special kid, and he holds a special spot in my heart."
Defensively, the Tigers kept Forest Park's air attack at bay for most of the night with sacks by Jamal Toney and Matt Gunnells.
Panthers quarterback Regginald Lewis was 21 of 33 for the night with 326 yards passing. However, he was picked off four times.
"He's a heck of a quarterback," Hoffman said. "We had to contain him because they wanted to spread the field and let him throw and let him get on his wheels."
The pressure up front helped Alcovy's secondary get four interceptions. Gunnells and Jamaree James picked off Lewis two times each.
"(James) is only a 10th-grader. We did some good things. Going into the 10th ball game of the year and nobody thought we'd be sitting where we are. I couldn't be any prouder of the kids," Hoffmann said.
Alcovy quarterback Rod Tolen also had a 100-yard game, rushing for 102 yards on 14 carries.
After picking up a short field by recovering an onside kick, the Tigers ran the ball 61 yards in 12 plays on the opening possession. Tolen finished the drive with a two-yard run with 7:22 remaining.
On a fourth down play, Gunnells stopped Lewis with a sack on fourth down. Two plays later, Malachi Outlaw broke several tackles before jaunting 75 yards for an Alcovy touchdown with 2:57 left in the first period.
"I started pushing and the next thing you know Maurice (Valentine) got behind me and I popped out. It was like 'touchdown,'" Outlaw said. "I was listening for a whistle and I never heard one, so I kept running."
Alcovy upped its lead to 17 points with 8:25 left in the first half on a 42-yard Kyle Vojtosak field goal.
The Tigers all but put the game away with a Devon Edwards TD run from the 5-yard line with 3:40 remaining in the half.
James put Alcovy in position to score again with a 32-yard interception return to the Forest Park 9-yard line. Tolen scored a touchdown three plays later to make it 31-0 with less then two minutes to go in the first half.
Forest Park came out of the locker room charged up, throwing the ball with Lewis completing five straight passes. However, the sixth pass was intercepted by James after it bounced off Alcovy's Nick Wilson.
Forest Park got on the board with 2:11 showing on the clock in the third frame with a 1-yard dive by Jay Lindley on a 98-yard drive.
Outlaw gave the Tigers a 31-point margin with a 14-yard touchdown run. Outlaw, Edwards and Tre Sorrells put Alcovy in position to score with runs of 22, 12, and 13-yard runs.
Sorrells, a freshman, finished the game with 71-rushing yards on nine carries.
The Panthers scored their final two touchdowns in the fourth period with most of Alcovy's starters on the sideline.
"We did some great things in the first half," Hoffmann said. "In the second half we played a lot of kids which was big for us."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.