ROSWELL, Ga. — It had been an emotional week for Roswell High School.
It has been a little more than a year since a student was found murdered just beyond the school’s grounds. A week has passed since a recent graduate of Blessed Trinity, less than a half mile down the road from Roswell, was pronounced dead on the campus of LSU. And just 48 hours before Roswell’s game against Archer Friday night, a student was hospitalized after a suspected suicide attempt just outside the school.
Before the game began, Roswell’s principal addressed the crowd on the importance of being there for one another. The student section was decked out in purple to honor late student Natalie Henderson who was murdered just before the start of classes last year. The house announcer told the crowd to hug their loved ones tight.
It was a night where a Roswell win could etch a small bright spot in a week otherwise marred with tragedy. But not every story can have a Hollywood ending.
Though Roswell nearly completed an improbably comeback, the Hornets fell to Archer, 37-26.
Roswell trailed 31-7 at the half after their offense couldn’t break down Archer’s stout defense filled with Division 1 recruits. Their defense struggled to contain the Tigers’ fast-paced offense that uses a multitude of players.
But in the second half, things started to go Roswell’s way.
Their offense found its rhythm and scored three unanswered touchdowns. Their defense forced pressure and began to limit Archer’s rushing attack. And with just four minutes remaining, Roswell was back on offense, trailing 31-26 and looking for the miraculous comeback against the No. 3 team in Class 7A.
In the end, Archer returned an interception for a touchdown with two minutes left, quelling the Hornets’ hopes.
Roswell head coach Matt Kemper fought back tears after the emotional game brought an end to the school’s trying week.
“With everything that went on with Roswell this week, it’s a challenge to stay focused,” Kemper said. “It’s not an excuse, it’s just a testament to how these young men came out and played the second half.”
Kemper said he challenged his players at halftime. His players responded with fervor, and that is what mattered most.
“We didn’t care about the end result, truthfully,” he said. “We just wanted to show some heart and show some fight. They certainly answered the call.”