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Alpharetta rains on Gainesville's home opener, 28-7
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Gainesville's Willie Brooks (8) forces and recovers a fumble from Alpharetta quarterback Matthew Downing (1) during Friday night's game between the Red Elephants and Alpharetta at City Park Stadium. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Gainesville appeared up for the task of giving nonregion Alpharetta a run for its money before Mother Nature made her unexpected arrival with 5:32 left in the first half.

The Raiders’ offense struck quickly following an hour-long delay with two scores right before intermission, then went on to run away with this first-ever meeting, racking up 387 total yards to hand Gainesville its first loss of the season,  28-7.

Senior wide receiver Carlos Carriere put the Raiders ahead 14-7 with on a 27-yard-catch-and-run touchdown just 14 seconds into resumed play. Running back Nolan Edmonds caught steam by racking up four carries for 33 yards to begin Alpharetta's sixth possession, then used his speed to turn a short catch into a 27-yard touchdown with 16.2 left in the half.

Edmonds (19 carries, 55 yards) capped the evening with the Raiders' final score of the day in the fourth quarter.

Raiders quarterback Matthew Downing completed 23-of-32 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Carriere caught three for 59 yards and two touchdowns. 

Gainesville starting quarterback D.J. Irons (12-of-23, 102 yards) started strong despite being sacked three times in the first half, completing 5-of-9 throws for 90 yards before the rains came. But the offense managed a single first down with 13 total yards in the second half. 

The Red Elephants otherwise held Alpharetta’s potent offense at bay with just one score in its first four possessions, even yielding Raiders’ running back and three-star recruit Edmonds to 2 yards on his first eight carries.

Downing and the Raiders were even humming along on their fourth possession until a forced fumble by Keith Harris and recovery by Willie Brooks erased a 12-play, 57-yard drive that initially brought them inside Gainesville’s 10-yard-line.

Following a quick three-and-out by the Red Elephants to start the game, Downing was a perfect 4-for-4 for 57 yards in response. His fourth completion to Carriere was for a 27-yard touchdown. Carriere showed off his three-star recruit status by hauling in the over-the-shoulder snag inside the 5-yard-line, then reached over the right-corner pylon to put the visitors on the board at the 9:28 mark.

Trailing 7-0, Irons found his form on the ensuing drive with a 35-yard hookup over the middle to Roadarius Timmons on the first play. He moved the chains on a third-and-long and second-and-long with back-to-back completions to Jim Barnett (three catches, 57 yards) of 17 and 33 yards, the second putting the Red Elephants inside the 1-yard-line before running back Kadarius Smith punched in for the game-tying score.

Gainesville (1-1) continues its non-region schedule against Clarke Central at home next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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