Last week it was Valdosta and Northside-Warner Robins. This time it was No. 2 Harrison and No. 4 Dalton, both of which travelled to northwest Georgia and suffered their first losses.
Harrison lost 33-21 to Rome, the defending champion and top-ranked team in Class AAAAA. Hoyas quarterback Justin Fields had 311 yards of total offense, threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, but Harrison (1-1) couldn’t overcome the 14 points that Rome (1-0) scored off turnovers.
It was a reversal of last year’s game, which Harrison won 22-20, thanks in large part to Rome turnovers. The Wolves fumbled four times in that game, the last one coming at the Hoyas’ 2-yard line with less than four minutes to play.
“It’s funny. Last year, we felt like they gave the game away, and this year, we let them off the hook,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann told Carlton D. White of the Marietta Daily Journal. “We did some things that really cost us, but take nothing away from Rome. They’re a very good football team.”
Dalton (0-1) had its 16-game regular-season winning streak end with a 24-0 loss to Calhoun, the No. 4-ranked team in Class AAA. The Catamounts’ 28-13 victory last year ended a seven-game losing streak in the series, but Dalton lost 18 starters off that team, which won the Region 6-AAAAAA title.
Calhoun’s Gavin Gray threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brannon Spector on the opening drive Friday for the Yellow Jackets (2-0), who outgained Dalton 218-84 while building a 10-0 lead in the first half. Zack Fuller scored on a 1-yard run and Gray threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Luke Moseley to help the Yellow Jackets put the game away.
Here’s a recap of some of the other big stories in Class AAAAAA from Week 2:
*Back on track: Region 1 was an uncharacteristic 2-3 in the opening week of play. That included losses by Valdosta (45-0 to Lowndes) and Northside (28-17 to Warner Robins). Both teams bounced back with dominant wins this week – Northside 44-6 over Henry County on Thursday and Valdosta 26-0 over Woodland-Stockbridge on Friday. Third-ranked Lee County picked up its second victory, beating Bainbridge 38-13. The struggles continue for Houston County, however. The Bears lost to Class AAA No. 1 Peach County 44-14 and have been outscored 86-17 in two games.
*Debut delayed: Coffee, the fifth team from Region 1, will have to wait until Saturday to try for its second victory after bad weather in Douglas forced the game against Brunswick to be pushed back a day. The weather also delayed the debut of Sean Pender as the Brunswick head coach. Pender spent the previous six years at Pierce County, leading the Bears to two region titles and six consecutive playoff berths. Brunswick hired Pender to replace Larry Harold, who took the job at Central-Macon. Coffee rallied in the fourth quarter to win 21-20 last season. Brunswick went on to finish 5-5 and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
*The early lead: Eighth-ranked Lovejoy moved into a tie for first place in 4-AAAAAA with a 33-14 victory over Mundy’s Mill in the only region game on the schedule this week. That puts the Wildcats in a tie with Jonesboro, which opened the season with a 24-10 over Mount Zion-Jonesboro, although the Cardinals lost to Eagle’s Landing Christian 35-7 on Thursday in a non-region game. Lovejoy and Jonesboro are the only teams in the classification that have won region games this season. Lovejoy sophomore quarterback Jordan Huntington passed for almost 200 yards, ran for 60 and had a hand in three scores against Mundy’s Mill.
*Tough schedule: Dacula won the Region 8 title last year but went just 1-4 in non-region play, winning only against Central Gwinnett 34-13 in its season opener. The Falcons will have to look elsewhere for non-region wins this year after losing to the Black Knights 36-33 on Friday. Dacula built a 14-0 lead but could not contain Central quarterback Jarren Williams, who passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 63 yards and two scores. The non-region road ahead won’t get any easier for Dacula – upcoming opponents Mill Creek, Arabia Mountain, West Forsyth and Walton are a combined 8-0.