Quarterfinals in review: A look back at the 32 games

Article and photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution –> Original Article Here

Buford defeated Carrollton, 34-27, in the quarterfinal to advance in Class AAAAA. (Jason Getz/Special to AJC)

Buford defeated Carrollton, 34-27, in the quarterfinal to advance in Class AAAAA. (Jason Getz/Special to AJC)


*Roswell 42, North Cobb 14: Roswell QB Malik Willis was 14-of-24 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. After trailing 21-0, North Cobb was within 21-14 entering the fourth quarter but got no closer.

What it means – Roswell, the 2015 runner-up, is 13-0, the same as it entered the semifinals last season.

*Westlake 24, Lowndes 21: Westlake took a 21-0 lead just 14 minutes into the game, held the classification’s highest-scoring offense scoreless through the first half, and won on James Miller’s 39-yard field goal as time expired.Westlake led in total yards 291-251. QB Ravaughn Burch was only 6-of-16 passing for 65 yards and suffered two interceptions but rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Maurice Peeks rushed for 79. Devin Olawumi had seven solo tackles, two for losses.

What it means – Westlake is the only unranked team still alive in any classification and accomplished something that it had never done, even during the Cam Newton era: Reach the semifinals. With Lowndes’ demise, which followed Colquitt County’s defeat Friday, no South Georgia team will be in the semifinals of the highest classification for the first time since 2000 (Parkview, Harrison, Starr’s Mill, Westside-Macon).

*Grayson 49, Colquitt County 21: Grayson took a 49-7 lead on Darren Martin’s 30-yard interception return in the third quarter and put the game on a running clock in the fourth to end Colquitt County’s two-year state-championship reign. Grayson outrushed Colquitt 373-31. Grayson RB Kurt Taylor rushed for 198 yards on 25 carries, and Jamyest Williams ran for 100 on five. Grayson passed just 10 times.

What it means – Grayson, the preseason and current No. 1 team, is in the semifinals for the second consecutive season and seeking its first final since the 2011 state-championship season. Colquitt County’s two-year reign as state champion and run of seven semifinal appearances, a record in the highest class, is over.

*Mill Creek 31, McEachern 28:Cameron Turley’s 64-yard TD pass to Ace Williams with 3:09 remaining gave Mill Creek a 31-21 lead, and the Hawks held on. Turley was 11-for-21 passing for 170 yards and two TDs to Williams, who had 106 receiving yards. Joe Thomas had 125 of the Hawks’ 179 yards rushing. McEachern’s Bailey Hockman was 22-of-39 passing for 377 yards and four touchdown. E.J. Scott finished with eight receptions for 181 yards, and Brandon Smith had nine catches for 144 yards. But McEachern had minus-39 yards rushing, and Mill Creek’s Ryan Cox had four tackles for losses.

What it means – Mill Creek is in the semifinals as a 13-0 team for the second consecutive season. The Hawks have never reached the finals.


*Tucker 28, Mays 21: Chris Broadwater scored on a 2-yard run to give Tucker a 21-7 halftime lead, and Mays never got closer than seven points in the second half. Broadwater added another touchdown, his third of the night, in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run. Mays had two chances to tie in the final six minutes but got no closer than the Tucker 30..

What it means – Tucker is in the semifinals for the first time since 2013, 12th time overall, and last reached a final in 2013.

*Northside (Warner Robins) 42, Glynn Academy 20: Northside was outgained by Glynn Academy 401-299 but turned three first-half Glynn Academy turnovers into touchdowns to build a 28-7 halftime lead. Northside quarterback Tobias Oliver rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns (on runs of 66, 1 and 33 yards) and passed for 107 yards and a 15-yard touchdown to Trayvon Willis. Tae Daley scored on a 50-yard kickoff return. Glynn Academy QB Deejay Dallas rushed for 183 yards and a touchdown and passed for 129 yards and a score.

What it means – Northside is in the semifinals for the first time since 2014, 10th time overall, and last reached a final in its 2014 state-championship season.

*Valdosta 31, Stephenson 21: Valdosta trailed 14-10 midway through the second quarter but got a 35-yard touchdown pass from J.R. Ingram to Wesley Veal on a reverse and a fumble return for a score by Jayce Rogers for a 24-14 halftime lead. Rogers also threw a touchdown pass to Damarrias Morrow for a 31-14 lead with 8:51 to play in the third quarter. Stephenson’s two first-half touchdowns came on one-play drives; otherwise the Jaguars managed just 22 yards on 15 plays in the first two quarters.

What it means –Valdosta is in the semifinals for the first time since 2003 and 30th time in GHSA playoff history. The previous longest semifinal drought had been six seasons (1971-77).

*Dalton 30, Coffee 28: Dalton led 30-7 early in the fourth quarter but needed a two-point-conversion stop and an interception in the final three minutes to preserve the victory. Dalton got big plays from its special teams – Jai’den Montgomery blocked a punt that Matthew Howell returned for a touchdown, Maddux Houghton blocked a field-goal attempt, and Kyric McGowan returned a punt 46 yards that set up a touchdown. Ahmaad Tanner had 242 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.

What it means – Dalton is in the semifinals for the first time since 2001 and 16th time in GHSA playoff history. Coffee could’ve joined Valdosta and Northside as one of three Region 1 teams in the semifinals.


*Stockbridge 41, Griffin 34: QB Kenderick Duncan, whose play has been limited the past month because of injury, had his best game of the season, rushing for 105 yards on 12 carries and completing 11 of 15 passes for 179 yards. Jalen Holston rushed for 82 yards and scored three touchdowns. Griffin made it close but never had possession with a chance to tie after trailing 21-0. Griffin QB Tylan Morton was 31-of-46 passing for 427 yards and broke Hutson Mason’s single-season record of 4,560 yards. Morton finished with 4,741.

What it means – Stockbridge is in its second semifinal, first since 2014, and looking for its first state-finals appearance.

*Rome 42, Ware County 13: Knox Kadum was 11-of-14 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns – including a 44-yard pass to Jordan Watkins. Jamious Griffin rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Rome sacked Ware County quarterbacks six times.

What it means – Rome is in its second semifinal, first since 2008, and looking for its first state-finals appearance. Rome coach John Reid also is in his second Georgia semifinal. He took East Paulding to the semis in 2006.

*Buford 34, Carrollton 27: Buford RB Chris Turner rushed 276 yards on 17 carries and scored on runs of 73, 89, 26 and 31 yards. His last two TD runs broke a 13-13 tie and gave Buford a cushion it did not relinquish. Anthony Grant and Zack Waters had two sacks each. Carrollton had two fourth-quarter possessions while within seven points but couldn’t get a first down.

What it means – Buford is in the semifinals for a state-record 10th consecutive season. Carrollton could’ve joined Rome and Kell as one of three Region 7 teams in the semifinals.

*Kell 53, Woodland (Stockbridge) 29: Kell put up more than 300 yards of total offense in building a 31-7 lead in the first half. QB John Lampley was 11-of-21 passing for 170 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 83 yards. He scored three first-quarter touchdowns. Noah Woghiren returned an interception 57 yards for a second-half touchdown.

What it means – Kell is in its second semifinal, first since 2013, and looking for its first state-finals appearance.

Class AAAA

*Cartersville 26, Woodward Academy 15: Cartersville took a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and held on. Woodward Academy got within 16-9 by halftime, but Cartersville scored the next 10 points to pull away. It was the Purple Hurricanes’ lowest-scoring game of the season and the first to be decided by less than 14 points. Junior QB Trevor Lawrence was 19-of-31 passing for 187 yards (unofficially) and a touchdown to surpass 10,000 yards for his career.

What it means – Cartersville, the defending champion, has won 28 consecutive games. The ‘Canes are in their 10th semifinal.

*Mary Persons 28, Blessed Trinity 27: Mary Persons survived a back-and-forth game when Blessed Trinity’s Brooks Hosea missed a 28-yard field goal with three seconds remaining. It was the only miss of the night out of five attempts for Hosea (committed to Army), who had connected earlier from 44, 47, 26 and 38 yards. Caleb Speir’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Roger Akins with 10:44 remaining provided the winning points. Quen Wilson rushed for 155 yards, and his 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead at 14-10.

What it means – Mary Persons is in the semifinals for the 10th time and first since 1998.

*Jefferson 17, Cairo 13: Colby Wood scored on a 3-yard run with 17 seconds remaining to give Jefferson the victory (and its only lead of the game). The winning drive began at the Cairo 41 with 3:42 remaining after Jefferson stopped a fake punt. A pass interference call moved the ball to the Cairo 8 with 30 seconds remaining. Wood finished with 101 yards rushing on 20 carries, and Jefferson outgained Cairo 214-193, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. Cairo’s Cole Phillips made field goals of 56 and 30 yards.

What it means – Jefferson is in the semifinals for the third time and first since its 2012 state-championship season.

*Thomson 30, Spalding 7: Region 3 player of the year Mike Thomas rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns for Thomson, which built a 27-0 first-half lead and cruised to victory over Spalding, a No. 3 seed. Thomas has 2,143 yards for the season. Thomson had 282 yards rushing and finished with a 397-163 advantage in total offense. Mills Ridings threw touchdown passes of 28 and 27 yards to Tra Parker in the first half.

What it means – Thomson is in the semifinals for the 12th time and first since its 2002 state-championship season.

Class AAA

*Peach County 27, Westminster 17: Antonio Gilbert was 14-of-17 passing for 272 yards and two touchdowns, and Chris Gibson rushed for 110 yards. Peach County had 500 yards in total offense and held Westminster all-state RB Zay Malcome to 28 yards on 11 carries.

What it means – Westminster, the defending champion, is out. Peach County is in its ninth semifinal, first since 2011.

*Greater Atlanta Christian 44, Liberty County 38: Davis Mills threw a 23-yard TD pass to Trent Fowler in the third overtime, and GAC stopped Liberty County’s fourth-down pass in the end zone to clinch the game. Liberty County had been 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions to that point. Mills, the state’s consensus top senior recruit, was 22-of-37 passing for 313 yards and five touchdowns, three to Harrison Sloan, who had seven catches for 114 yards. Liberty County’s Richard LeCounte, the No. 2 recruit, scored two touchdowns, one rushing, one receiving, and passed for a TD.

What it means – GAC is in its third consecutive semifinal, sixth overall, in the quest for its first state championship. Liberty County was denied its first semifinal.

*Crisp County 56, Pierce County 21: Crisp County led 21-0 after one quarter and 35-7 after two. Patrick Felton was 9-of-11 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Sammie Robinson rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Quay Walker had two of Crisp’s five sacks.

What it means – Crisp County is in its third semifinal, first since 1995, in the quest for its first state-championship appearance.

*Cedar Grove 47, Calhoun 21: Cedar Grove controlled the lines of scrimmage and outrushed Calhoun 299-63. Grant Walker ran for 155 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Jelanie Woods was 9-of-13 passing for 267 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 64 yards and two TDs. Dennis Bell had five catches for 153 yards. DE Roderic Forts had 1.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses.

What it means – Cedar Grove is in the semifinals for the second consecutive season, fourth time overall, and is the lone survivor from Region 5, which had four Top 10 teams (No. 3 Westminster, No. 8 Lovett and No. 9 Pace Academy were the others) in the playoffs. Cedar Grove is ranked No. 6.

Class AA

*Callaway 35, Screven County 34: Dylan Johnson threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Sanders with 17 seconds remaining for the victory. The Cavaliers started the game-winning drive at their 2-yard line with 2:26 left after a Screven County punt. Callaway trailed 14-3 at halftime, but Sanders returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. He also caught a 36-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 34-29 with 4:15 to play. Johnson passed for 269 yards and three touchdowns. D.J. Atkins rushed for 151 yards and went over 2,000 for the season (2,041).

What it means – Callaway is in its second semifinal, first since 2013, and looking for its first state-finals appearance.

*Benedictine 51, Pepperell 13: Benedictine’s Tyleek Collins scored four touchdowns, including three in the first half as the Cadets built a 38-7 lead. Collins scored on an 82-yard kickoff return, a 1-yard run, an 83-yard run and a 64-yard punt return. Benedictine ran for 360 yards and had three players with more than 100 – Collins with 122, Wesley Kennedy with 109 and Terrick Smalls with 107.

What it means – Benedictine is in the semifinals for the fifth time overall and third time in four seasons. Benedictine last made it during its 2014 state-championship season.

*Fitzgerald 35, Rabun County 16: Fitzgerald took a 21-7 lead on J.D. King’s second TD reception in the second quarter and won a shootout, leading in total yards 500-386. King rushed for 100 yards on 19 carries and had two catches for 80 yards, both for touchdowns. QB James Graham rushed for 114 yards and passed or 248 and three touchdowns. Rabun County’s Bailey Fisher passed for 229 yards and rushed for 112.

What it means – Fitzgerald, the state runner-up last season, is in its 12th semifinal.

*Hapeville 30, Chattooga 21: Hapeville’s Adam Barrett broke a 21-21 tie with a 33-yard field goal to end the third quarter, and Marcus Carroll scored his third touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter to put the game away. QB Hajj Malik-Williams was 12-for-20 passing for 215 yards and rushed for 79 yards. Rory Starkey had six receptions for 106 yards. Chattooga twins Isaac and Isaiah Foster combined for 274 yards rushing.

What it means – Hapeville is in its first semifinal in its sixth season of varsity football.

Class A (public)

*Macon County 28, Manchester 14: K’hari Lane threw three TD passes, giving him 50 on the season, four short of Hutson Mason’s single-season record. Lane was 17-of-16 for 272 yards. Trey Brown had seven catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Akeevious McLendon rushed for 95 yards.

What it means – Macon County is in the semifinals for the seventh time, first since its state-championship season of 1996.

*Emanuel County Institute 44, Irwin County 25: ECI led 31-7 at halftime. Jamoni Kelli rushed for 161 yards on 19 carries, and Rhett Gay was 12-of-17 passing for 197 yards and three touchdowns, all to David Durden, who had seven catches for 136 yards.

What it means – ECI avenged a semifinal loss to Irwin County in 2015 to get back in the semis for the straight time.

*Clinch County 44, Commerce 0: Charles McClelland rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, and his 81-yard TD run midway in the second quarter made it 21-0. Clinch outrushed Commerce 382-141 and held Commerce to 1-of-8 passing. Colten Manac and Octavius Morris returned fumbles for touchdowns.

What it means – Clinch County, the defending champion, routed an opponent that it defeated only 26-19 in the semifinals a year ago. Clinch is in the semifinals for the 15th time.

*McIntosh County Academy 39, Greene County 22: J.P. Palmer had 232 of McIntosh County’s 372 rushing yards and scored four of the six touchdowns. LB Jonathan Jason had 17 tackles, and DL Barry Jackson had two tackles for losses and two sacks. Greene County’s Devin Wynn, who entered as the state’s leading rusher, finished with 99 yards in the game, 2,343 for the season.

What it means – McIntosh County Academy is in the semifinals for the second time, first since 2000 (lost to Buford).

Class A (private)

*Eagle’s Landing Christian 35, Wesleyan 13: ELCA had scoring drives of 74, 61, 55, 80 and 31 yards without attempting a pass. Trevor Gear, on 28 attempts, rushed for 176 of ELCA’s 351 yards. ELCA’s 11-rush, 80-yard drive in the third quarter opened a 28-6 lead. ELCA defeated Wesleyan only 34-31 in the regular season, by far the Chargers’ closest game against a Class A opponent.

What it means – ELCA, the defending champion, is in the semifinals for the sixth consecutive time.

*Tattnall Square 28, Calvary Day 14: Ahmad Barron rushed for 167 yards, and his 80-yard run in the final three minutes put the game away. Leading 21-14, Tattnall Square had just stopped Calvary Day on a fourth down from the Tattnall 18-yard line.

What it means – Tattnall Square, an 11-time state champion in the Georgia Independent School Association, is in its first semifinal since joining the GHSA in 2014.

*Prince Avenue Christian 27, Landmark Christian 10: Prince Avenue trailed 10-7 at halftime, but Noah Campbell scored on a 63-yard run on the first play of the second half, which Prince dominated. Campbell rushed for 107 yards, virtually all of it after moving to quarterback for the final two quarters as Prince Avenue utilized Wildcat formations and committed to the run. Sam Wessinger had three tackles for losses.

What it means – Prince Avenue is in the semifinals for the third time, first since 2012, and still contending for its first state title.

*Fellowship Christian 45, Mount Paran Christian 13: Jack Hardin threw five TD passes, three to Ryan Reid and two to Merrick Haigler. Hardin was 8-of-12 for 217 yards. Reid had six catches for 135 yards. Cameron Gill had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.

What it means – Fellowship Christian, which started varsity football in 2004, is in the semifinals for the first time.

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