By Zach Shugan
MILTON, Ga. — Even though neither team entered the night with a chance of making the playoffs, that didn’t stop Cambridge and Alpharetta from going all out Wednesday night in the final game of their inaugural season.
After falling behind by 14 points, the Bears scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the lead and stopped a two-point conversion attempt with 20 seconds remaining to seal a 27-26 win.
“We had both lost four games, so we were battling for fifth place [in the region],” Cambridge head coach Mike Matthews said. “But you saw how hard the girls played just to be fifth place. They came out just because they love it. I’ve got girls asking if they can practice tomorrow. They want to keep playing.”
Unfortunately for the Bears, they’ll have to wait until next year to put on their flags and line it up for another game, but they ended their first season with a bang.
After Cambridge opened the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Aaliyah Miranda to Sarah Meredith, Alpharetta responded with a 20-0 run. Lula Masters rushed for two touchdowns in the first half, and Rachel Firestone came up with two interceptions, one of which she returned for a touchdown.
“Alpharetta did a great job of running the option,” Matthews said. “We hadn’t seen the option before because that’s hard to do. They got us a bit.”
Cambridge gained some momentum heading into halftime, as Miranda connected with Annie Ritter for a touchdown as time expired to make it a 20-12 game in Alpharetta’s favor. The Bears came out in the second half and tied the game on their first drive. Liv Bollenbacher ran up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown, and Ritter caught a two-point conversion to make it a 20-20 game.
On 4th and goal from the 6-yard line, Miranda tossed her third touchdown of the game, and this one gave Cambridge the lead. Madeline Matthews reeled in the pass in the end zone to put the Bears in front, and Miranda completed another pass on the one-point conversion to put them up 27-20 with nine minutes remaining.
“I’m super proud of [Miranda],” Matthews said. “She threw a couple picks and could’ve got her head down, but she came back and threw some touchdowns and got some extra points for us and really did a great job. I love the fact that she was able to bounce back.”
After an unsuccessful attempt at scoring on the ensuing drive, Alpharetta got the ball back with around two minutes on the clock and nearly walked away with a win. Masters caught a touchdown with 20 seconds left, making it a 27-26 game. The Raiders decided to go for two points and the win, but the pass fell incomplete.
With the win, Cambridge finished its first season with a 3-4 record, good for fifth place in Division 3-Area 3. Alpharetta finished right behind the Bears in sixth place with a record of 2-5 in area play.
Roswell secured the area title and a No. 1 seed for the 6A-7A playoffs, and joining them from the area in the postseason will be Chattahoochee, Milton and Johns Creek.