Second-ranked Peach County won the Region 4-AAA championship and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs after getting a 35-yard field goal from Mitchell Fineran with 1:21 remaining to defeat Jackson 24-21. It was the Trojans’ 15th region championship, and the victory avenged a 3-2 loss to Jackson last season.
The game-winning kick came after Jackson had come back from a 14-0 deficit. Peach (9-1, 6-0) had taken the lead on a 13-yard touchdown run by quarterback Antonio Gilbert and a 22-yard touchdown pass from Gilbert to Devontae Howard.
Jackson (7-3, 5-1) responded before halftime on a 6-yard touchdown run by Antavius Grier.
Peach extended its lead to 21-7 when Gilbert completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Johnson. But Jackson countered with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Shaderius Crowder to Daryan Ingram and a 94-yard touchdown pass from Crowder to Deontae Barlow to tie the game and set the stage for Peach’s game-winning kick.
Peach County was one of five teams to earn No. 1 seeds Friday. Westminster (Region 5), Jenkins (Region 3) and Morgan County (Region 8) had previously won region titles.
Region 1: Fifth-ranked Crisp County (10-0, 4-0) kept its season perfect with a 28-20 victory against Worth County (6-4, 3-1) to win the Region 1 championship. It was the first region title for Crisp since 1995.
“This was a hard-fought game, and this was a great Worth County team,” said Crisp coach Shelton Felton. “(Worth) runs the ball well, and my kids did not give up. They would not stop fighting. They just kept going, and we finally pulled it off. We are very excited. No doubt we can carry this momentum forward. We are just going to play, one at a time. We will keep battling.”
Sophomore Jamie Robinson rushed for 280 yards on 29 carries. The Cougars amassed 320 yards rushing and 235 passing yards. Qua’ Walker had two sacks, and Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant also had a sack.
It marks the second undefeated season in school history and the first undefeated season for the Cougars since 1980, when they lost to Woodward Academy 12-7 in the quarterfinals.
Region 2: Seventh-ranked Liberty County (9-1, 5-0) moved past No. 10 Pierce County (7-3, 4-1) 56-46 in come-from-behind fashion to win its first ever region title.
“I can’t be more proud of my boys,” said Liberty coach Kirk Warner. “I told them we were going to have to take some punches, but we took those punches like men and delivered that knockout blow. Our guys battled back and showed some resolve in a hostile environment on the road to a very, very good Pierce team. So we held serve tonight; we held serve.”
Jaalon Frazier completed 14-of-24 passes for 320 yards and six touchdowns. Frazier also rushed for 147 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. UGA commitment Richard LeCounte had three receptions for 83 yards and three touchdowns. Kris Coleman rushed for 101 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. Dylan Stewart gained 80 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Region 6: Fourth-ranked Calhoun (8-2, 5-0) locked up its 16th consecutive region title with a 48-0 romp of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (1-9, 1-4). Yellow Jackets quarterback Gavin Gray completed 6-of-6 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns. Gray connected with four different receivers for touchdowns — Luke Jones (50 yards), Bryson Davis (46 yards), Luke Moseley, (45 yards) and Ryan Randall (8 yards). The Jackets also got three rushing touchdowns from Kenan Dixon (35 yards), Jess Ralston (30 yards) and Zach Fuller, (5 yards).
“I think we can carry this momentum forward,” said coach Hal Lamb. “We have some work to do, but two things happen in the playoffs. You’re either satisfied and you don’t play as well or you either step your game up in the playoffs. I think that is what we need to do to make a run.”
Region 7: Top-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian (9-1, 6-0) took care of Dawson County 42-7 to win its seventh region title and grab the No. 1 seed. The Spartans will face the No. 4 seed from Region 5 in the first round of the playoffs.
“Our guys played really well, and it was a complete and total team victory,” said coach Tim Hardy. “We were fueled by our defense tonight, which played outstanding. We were able to capitalize on a long touchdown pass from Davis Mills to Harrison Sloane for our first score and then, after some stops, we were able to get a rhythm and converted a 4th-and-2 from the 4-yard line for a touchdown to make it 14-0 and just continued to play solid the rest of the way. I am proud of the guys and the way they competed. It was a fun night”
Davis Mills was 19-of-27 for 320 yards and five touchdowns. Kyler McMichael had 94 yards rushing and one touchdown. Mills connected with Sloane on touchdown passes of 56 and 14 yards.