Stephenson emerged as the top threat to top-ranked Tucker’s reign in Region 4-AAAAAA after its 14-7 victory Friday against Lovejoy, the runner-up to the Tigers in the region last season.
Stephenson built a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs by Darren Parker and Deondre Jackson and, after allowing a Lovejoy touchdown late in the first half, held on through a scoreless second half.
The loss avenged Lovejoy’s 28-27 victory last season that essentially decided second and third place in the region, as neither team lost another region game except to Tucker, which was the state runner-up.
The victory was the second consecutive for Stephenson after starting the season 0-2. Lovejoy has lost three in a row after starting the season 2-0.
Tucker (3-1, 1-0) and Stephenson (2-2, 1-0) are tied for first place, and Drew (vs. Mount Zion-Jonesboro) and M.L. King (vs. Mundy’s Mill) can join them with victories on Saturday.
Here’s a recap of some of the other big stories in Class AAAAAA from Week 5:
– Douglas County is 4-0 for the first time since 2003 after beating South Paulding 42-0. The victory leaves the Tigers (4-0, 2-0) alone in first place in Region 5, at least for the moment. The winner of Saturday’s game between Mays and New Manchester also will be 2-0 in region play. Douglas County finished in fifth place last season despite its 6-4 overall record that was the school’s best since an 8-3 mark in 2007. The Tigers have reached the playoffs just once since then, earning a No. 4 seed in 2014 after going 5-5.
– River Ridge opened the season 3-0 but ran into a big dose of reality when it began Region 6 play with a 49-0 loss to fifth-ranked Harrison. River Ridge couldn’t stop Harrison’s duo of quarterback Justin Fields and wide receiver Steven Peterson. According to the Cherokee Tribune, Fields was 12-of-19 passing for 275 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 42 yards and a score on five carries. Peterson had seven catches for 238 yards and scored on receptions of 65, 45 and 9 yards. River Ridge has next week off, while Harrison meets Allatoona in a key region game.
– Chattahoochee just missed the playoffs last season when it finished in fifth place in Region 7, but the Cougars seem determined not to come up short again. Chattahoochee ended North Atlanta’s three-game winning streak to start the season with a 21-14 victory, putting the Cougars in a tie with Alpharetta for first place. The win was the third in a row for Chattahoochee after a 54-30 loss to Pickens in the opener. North Atlanta falls into a tie with Centennial, defending region champion Johns Creek and Pope for third place.
– North Atlanta and River Ridge weren’t the only unbeaten teams to suffer their first losses of the season. Heritage-Conyers fell to 3-1 when it lost to Dutchtown 10-7 on a touchdown in the final two minutes. According to the Henry Herald, Dutchtown got the ball at the Heritage 2-yard line after a punt hit a player at the line of scrimmage. That leaves seven undefeated teams in AAAAAA. Lee County is 5-0 after a 57-7 victory over Luella. Greenbrier, Douglas County and Winder-Barrow improved to 4-0 with wins Friday. Bradwell Institute (3-0) plays at Tattnall County Saturday night, and Coffee (3-0) had its game against University Christian of Florida canceled.
– The impact of Hurricane Irma has led to a little busier Saturday than usual in Class AAAAAA. Here are the scheduled games:
Bradwell Institute at Tattnall County
Brunswick at Camden County
Drew at M.L. King
M.L. King at Mount Zion-Jonesboro
New Manchester at Mays
Statesboro at Effingham County
Stephens County at Habersham Central