Morgan County coach Bill Malone said that Bremen did not look like a No. 4 seed a few days before the teams played in the first round of the Class AAA high school football state playoffs. His concerns were well-founded.
Morgan County, the No. 1 seed from Region 8, was the only top seed to be eliminated Friday night, 24-21, by a Bremen team that is headed for the second round for the first time since 2011. Bremen will face Pierce County, the No. 2 seed from Region 2, in the second round.
Otherwise, the first round of the playoffs went just about as expected. The No. 1 seeds coasted to the second round without much opposition:
— Top-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian (10-1), the No. 1 seed from Region 7, rallied late to move past No. 9 Pace Academy, 35-15. The Spartans jumped to a 14-0 lead early, but Pace responded to trim the lead to 21-17 after a 67-yard touchdown run by Deon Jackson, which would be the last Pace touchdown of the 2016 season.
In the fourth quarter, Davis Mills found Harrison Sloane on a short pass to cap off a 13-play drive and extend the lead to 28-17. Mills then scored on a short run to seal the victory.
GAC will host Worth County, the No. 2 seed from Region 1, in the second round. Worth defeated Region 3, No. 3 seed Southeast Bullock, 56-7.
— No. 2-ranked Peach County (10-1), the No. 1 seed from Region 4, defeated Tattnall County, 42-13. The Trojans were led by Antonio Gilbert, who finished the game 23-of-31 passing for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Gilbert also rushed for a touchdown. Kearis Jackson caught 10 passes for 159 yards and a score. Kyle Nixon anchored the Trojans’ defense with two interceptions. The Trojans will face North Murray, the No. 2 seed from Region 6, next week.
— No. 3-ranked Westminster (9-2), the No. 1 seed from Region 5, rolled over Region 7, No. 4 seed North Hall, 49-18. Zay Malcome had a record-setting performance, scoring five touchdowns and rushing for 253 yards on 21 carries. Malcome scored on runs of 50, 43, 29, 9 and 4 yards. Quarterback Ward Croft went 8-of-15 passing for 175 yards. The Wildcats will face the winner of Saturday’s Cook-Savannah game.
— No. 4-ranked Calhoun (9-2), the No. 1 seed from Region 6, was not challenged as it rolled past Monroe Area, the No 4 seed from Region 8, 42-0. The Yellow Jackets will face Jackson (8-3) in the second round.
— No. 5 Crisp County, the No. 1 seed from Region 1, moved to 11-0 for the first time since 1980, by defeating Islands, 42-0. The victory sets up a big second-round game against No. 8 Lovett (8-3), the No. 3 seed from Region 5. Lovett moved past Dawson County, the No. 2 seed from Region 7, 49-28, after trailing early in the game. The Lions took advantage of crucial Dawson second-half turnovers. Peyton Ringer had three interceptions that proved costly for Dawson. Ringer finished with 105 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. Lion quarterback Brady Tindall accounted for four touchdowns on 21-of-39 passing for 305 yards.
— No. 7-ranked Liberty County (9-1), the No. 1 seed from Region 2, was not challenged in a 56-10 victory against Region 4, No. 4 seed Pike County. Jaalon Frazier passed for 189 yards and five touchdowns on 11-of-22 passing. UGA commitment Richard LeCounte had three touchdowns and 80 yards receiving. The Panthers will face Region 6, No. 3 seed Sonoraville next week.
— Unranked Jenkins, the No. 1 seed from Region 3, won its first playoff game ever with a 31-14 victory against Dougherty. Jenkins trailed 14-10 at halftime, but created seven second-half turnovers — six interceptions and a fumble recovery. Joe Burke rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Jenkins will face the winner of Saturday’s Union County-Cedar Grove game.