Quarterfinals in Review

Class AAAAAAA

*Brookwood 35, Tift County 28: Trailing 21-14, Brookwood returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown (Matthew Hill) and scored on a 28-yard interception return (Kendall Williams) before running a play from scrimmage and never lost the lead from there. Dante Black rushed for 124 yards, and Hill had 144 yards rushing and receiving. Tift County WR Rashod Bateman had nine catches for 187 yards, giving him 1,570 for the season.

What it means – Brookwood is in the semifinals for the first time since its 2010 state championship season. Tift’s best season since 2006 is over.

*Colquitt County 12, Archer 7: Ryan Fitzgerald kicked four field goals – one a 60-yarder from a free kick – as Colquitt County won without scoring a touchdown. Fitzgerald also was good from 43, 47 and 29 yards. Nyquan Washington intercepted two passes, including one he returned 51 yards to set up Fitzgerald’s go-ahead 29-yard field goal with 8:25 to go in the game. Steven Krajewski passed for 105 yards and rushed for 84, not counting sacks.

What it means – The last undefeated team in the classification is out, while third-seeded Colquitt is in the semifinals for the eighth time in nine seasons. Colquitt won its 18th road playoff game – 11th against a region champion – since Rush Propst became head coach in 2008. Colquitt earned a rematch with Brookwood, which beat the Packers 42-25 on Sept. 15.

*McEachern 43, Parkview 28: Paris Brown rushed for 150 yards, and Jalen Thornton scored on a 35-yard run in the final three minutes for the final cushion. McEachern outgained Parkview 392-391 and survived a 201-yard rushing effort from Parkview’s Christian Malloy.

What it means – McEachern is the lone unranked team remaining in the classification and the only Cobb County Schools representative still playing in any class. The Indians are in the semifinals for the first time since 2014, seeking their first state title.

*North Gwinnett 51, Marietta 41: Tyler Goodson rushed for 293 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. North Gwinnett’s 44-21 lead shrunk to 44-41 in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs put the game away with long drive and Jimmy Urzua’s 13-yard TD pass to Riley Walker on third-and-goal.

What it means – North Gwinnett is in the semifinals for the first time since 2013 and won its 12th consecutive game since a season-opening loss to Walton. Marietta, an at-large playoff team and a quarterfinalist for the first time since 1994, sent a message that it’s not likely a flash in the pan as Harrison Bailey, the No. 2 pro-style QB prospect nationally among sophomores according to 247Sports, passed for 337 yards and five touchdowns.

Class AAAAAA

*Coffee 28, Alpharetta 14: Coffee built a 21-0 lead in the second quarter despite losing top running backs Jameon Gaskin and Marquavious Jefferson to injuries. Gaskin returned in the second half. Jefferson, who had an interception and scored on a 16-yard run, did not return, and his status for this week is uncertain. QB Wade Sumner was 9-of-14 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Neither team scored in the second half.

What it means – Coffee, in search of its first state title, is in the semifinals for the first time since 1981. Alpharetta’s best playoff run in history is over.

*Tucker 20, Allatoona 12: Tucker trailed 6-0 at halftime, but Tyler Hughley returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers the lead for good. Tucker added a field goal after blocking a punt, and Taurean Taylor’s 30-yard punt return to the Allatoona 10 set up a fourth-quarter touchdown. Tucker held Allatoona to 19 yards rushing (minus-9 in the second half) and 130 total yards.

What it means – Tucker, the 2016 runner-up, is back in the semifinals for the seventh time in 11 years, seeking its first title since 2011.

*Lee County 34, Mays 14: Jase Orndorff’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Josh Asbury on the last play of the first half gave Lee County a 17-0 lead, and Austin Beaver’s 42-yard field goal made it 20-0 in the third quarter. Orndorff finished with two touchdown passes, and Nikko Cruz scored on runs of 1 and 12 yards. Lee County intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles.

What it means – Lee County avenged its 2016 second-round loss and advanced to its first semifinal in a football history that dates to 1971. Lee is the No. 1 seed from a region of two semifinalists. Coffee is the other. Region 1 can now boast of having four of its five schools in the semifinals the past two years. Northside and Valdosta made it last year.

*Glynn Academy 31, Harrison 7: Caine Crews ran for two touchdowns in the first half, and the Red Terrors led 21-0 after a Tyler Grant touchdown on their opening possession of the third quarter. Crews rushed for 173 yards on 30 carries, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. QB Randon Jernigan added a 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

What it means – Glynn Academy is in the semifinals for the first time since its 2015 runner-up team, seeking its first state title since 1964. Harrison’s best season since 2002 is over.

Class AAAAAA

*Rome 59, Starr’s Mill 10: Knox Kadum was 7-of-11 passing for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Montrell Millsap had 3.5 tackles for losses. Adam Anderson had three.

What it means – Rome, the defending champion, won its 25th consecutive game and scored 56 points or more for the 16th time in history – and the sixth time this season alone. Starr’s Mill’s best playoff run since 2010 was ended.

*Buford 20, Stockbridge 17: Buford gave up a touchdown on an interception return 16 seconds into the game and trailed 14-0 in the second quarter but rallied in the second half. Hayden Olsen’s 24-yard field goal with 6:08 left broke a 17-17 tie. To that point, Stockbridge hadn’t given up more than 17 points in a game this season. Christian Turner rushed for 96 yards.

What it means – Buford, ranked No. 2, is in the semifinals for the 11th straight time, a state record, and now gets a state-finals rematch with Rome, which defeated Buford 16-7 last year for the Class AAAAA title. Stockbridge, ranked No. 3, finishes 12-1.

*Warner Robins 63, Carrollton 24: Dylan Fromm was 25-of-34 passing for 357 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored three touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards. Julius Burnett had 142 yards from scrimmage.

What it means – Warner Robins, seeking its first state title since 2004, is in the semifinals for the first time since 2011. The 63 points are the most Warner Robins has scored in a playoff game, and the most surrendered by Carrollton in any game since 1938.

*Carver (Atlanta) 26, Jones County 21: Octavious Battle threw two TD passes, one to Quindarious Monday on a fourth-and-15 play. Battle was 16-of-21 passing for 240 yards and rushed for 82 yards. JoQuavious Marks rushed for 106 yards. Jones County scored a touchdown with 12 seconds left but failed to recover an onside kick for another shot.

What it means – Carver is the biggest quarterfinal underdog to win in any class, according to the Maxwell Ratings, as Jones County was a 19-point favorite. Carver is in the semifinals for the first time since 1968.

Class AAAA

*Marist 28, Burke County 6: Burke County took a 6-0 lead on Jaylen Odom’s 10-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, but Marist led 14-6 at halftime and added two second-half touchdowns. Charlie Addicks, Ellis Pearson, Kyle Hamilton and Chris Zowine had rushing touchdowns for the War Eagles. Marist rushed for 253 yards, led by Pearson (13 carries, 67 yards) and QB Chase Abshier (16-62), who also passed for 87 yards.

What it means – Marist, seeking its first state title since 2003, is in its first semifinal since 2013 and gets a rematch against its archrival St. Pius, which Marist defeated 17-14 on Sept. 8. It will be the first time in 53 meetings that the DeKalb County Catholic schools have met in the state playoffs.

*St. Pius 35, Woodward Academy 31: St. Pius trailed only briefly but did not put the game away until a 56-yard touchdown run by Jacob Pajer made it 35-25 with 2:33 remaining. Pajer ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns on four carries. He also had eight solo tackles and broke up three passes. Jason Jones had 177 yards and two TDs on eight carries. St. Pius finished with 420 rushing yards and did not attempt a pass.

What it means – St. Pius is in the semifinals despite a 2-9 finish in 2016 and an 0-5 start to 2017. It is the Golden Lions’ first semifinal since their 2014 runner-up finish. St. Pius’ lone state title came in 1968.

*Blessed Trinity 43, Thomson 13: Thomson took a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening drive, but Blessed Trinity scored on all four first-half possessions and led 26-7 at halftime. RB Steele Chambers ran for two touchdowns, threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to QB Jake Smith on a trick play and scored on a 16-yard reception. Sophomore RB Elijah Greenrushed for 192 yards.

What it means – Blessed Trinity has eliminated last year’s state champion (Cartersville) and runner-up (Thomson) on consecutive weekends. Seeking their first state title, the Titans are in their first semifinal since a runner-up finish in 2015 and advance to a rematch against Mary Persons, which beat them 28-27 in the 2016 quarterfinals.

*Mary Persons 51, Jefferson 32: RB Quen Wilson ran for a season-high 213 yards on 23 carries and scored on runs of 36, 54, 54 and 15 yards to lead Mary Persons. The Bulldogs took control with 17 consecutive points in the second quarter and led 30-20 at halftime. QB J.T. Hartage passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns. RB Cobly Wood, Jefferson’s all-time leading rusher, had 112 yards in his final high school game.

What it means – Mary Persons is in the semifinals for the second straight season. Mary Persons last reached the finals in 1993 and last won a title in 1980.

Class AAA

*Greater Atlanta Christian 51, Jenkins 14: GAC scored its first touchdown on a 98-yard drive on 10 plays (no passes), then led 13-0 after Hunter Cole’s interception return for a touchdown. It was 27-0 at halftime. Kyler McMichael rushed for 154 yards on 14 carries.

What it means – Greater Atlanta Christian, the Class AAA runner-up in 2016, is in the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season, still seeking its first state championship. Jenkins’ best season in terms of victories is over at 12-1.

*Peach County 45, Westminster 15: Peach County LB Ethan Manns stripped the ball on Westminster’s first play from scrimmage. Peach capitalized with a touchdown drive and never looked back. Trevon Woolfolk rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Peach County had 568 total yards, 394 rushing.

What it means – Peach County, seeking its first state title since 2009, is in the semifinals for the second straight season and gets a rematch with Greater Atlanta Christian, which beat the Trojans 13-7 in the 2016 semifinals. Westminster finished 7-6, with all six losses to ranked opponents.

*Cedar Grove 28, Pike County 0: Darrell Neal rushed for 124 yards. Jadon Haselwood intercepted two passes. LB Isaiah Ratcliff had 17 tackles, 2.5 for losses, as the Saints posted their fifth shutout this season.

What it means – Cedar Grove’s winning streak is now 23 games. Pike County’s best season, which includes its first playoff victory, is over.

*Calhoun 31, Liberty County 7: Gavin Gray was 32-of-38 passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Calhoun held Liberty County to 134 yards, 74 of that on one play. Calhoun RB Zack Fuller, who rushed for more than 150 yards in each of the first two rounds, was injured in the first quarter and not a factor.

What it means – Calhoun is in the semifinals for the eighth time in 10 seasons and gets a rematch with No. 1 Cedar Grove, which beat the Yellow Jackets 47-21 in the 2016 quarterfinals.

Class AA

*Brooks County 31, Callaway 0: Brooks County got two touchdown runs from Jonathan White (77 yards and 15 yards), one each from JaColby Brown (4 yards) and Mac Perry (22 yards) and recorded its fifth shutout of the season. The Trojans outgained Callaway 406-51 and held the Cavaliers to minus-16 yards rushing on 24 carries. Perry finished with 127 yards rushing on 13 carries, and White had 125 yards on 13 carries.

What it means – Brooks County is in the semifinals for the first time since 2014 and is the only south Georgia team left in AA as region champions Thomasville, Screven County and Benedictine went down. Callaway was denied a return trip to the semis.

*Rabun County 56, Screven County 14: Rabun County led 21-14 at halftime and 28-14 after three quarters and pulled away with four fourth-quarter touchdowns. QB Bailey Fisher rushed for 148 yards, passed for 241 yards and had a hand in seven touchdowns (four passing, three rushing). Brison Beck rushed for 135 yards on 20 carries. Rabun County finished with 523 total yards.

What it means – Rabun County is in the semifinals for the first time in a football history that dates to 1949. Rabun also is the first school from the northeast Georgia mountains ever to make the semis. Rabun is the only undefeated team remaining in AA, as previously unbeaten Benedictine and Thomasville lost, as well as Screven County.

*Heard County 28, Thomasville 14: The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, but Thomasville fumbled on the second play of the third quarter and Heard County capitalized, scoring on an 11-yard run by Aaron Beasley seven plays later to take the lead for good. Beasley rushed for 132 yards and intercepted two passes. QB Emory Jones accounted for the Braves’ other three touchdowns – a 50-yard pass to Jaden Moreland on Heard County’s opening drive and two short runs. Thomasville turned the ball over five times.

What it means – Heard County, a 14-point underdog in this game per the Maxwell Ratings, is in the semifinals for the first time in a football history that dates to 1972. Thomasville’s best team in terms of wins since its state-championship season of 1988 finishes 12-1.

*Hapeville Charter 31, Benedictine 17: Hapeville Charter had leads of 21-0 and 28-7 in the first half and was never threatened. QB Hajj-Malik Williams completed 16 of 17 passes in the first half for 211 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a 1-yard run. Hapeville finished with 206 yards rushing and 422 total yards, according to the Savannah Morning News.

What it means – Hapeville is in the semifinals for the second consecutive season. The 7-year-old school has never won a state title. Defending champ Benedictine’s 27-game winning streak is over, and larger challenges await as the Cadets will move up to Class AAA next season, leaving AA as a public-only classification.

Class A (private)

*Eagle’s Landing Christian 55, Calvary Day 0: ELCA had 426 yards of total offense, 324 rushing, led by Josh Mays, who ran for 71 yards and scored three touchdowns.

What it means – ELCA extended its winning streak to 34 games and reached the semifinals for the seventh consecutive season.

*Prince Avenue Christian 31, Darlington 18: Prince Avenue led 17-7 at halftime and 31-7 before giving up two touchdowns in the final minute. Christian Parrish had 87 yards receiving and 48 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns. He also blocked an extra point. Sam Wessinger rushed for 166 yards and had 12 tackles. Mack Simmons intercepted two passes.

What it means – Prince Avenue, seeking its first state title, is in the semifinals for the third consecutive season.

*Athens Academy 38, Savannah Country Day 14: Len’Neth Whitehead rushed for 206 yards and scored four touchdowns.

What it means – Athens Academy, seeking its first state title, is 12-0 and in the semifinals for the first time since 2007. It advances to a rematch with Mount Paran Christian, which eliminated the Spartans 17-10 in the 2016 second round.

*Mount Paran Christian 14, Stratford Academy 7: Mount Paran trailed 7-0 in the fourth quarter but won on RB Chandler Webber’s two touchdowns. Mount Paran held Stratford to 51 total yards in the second half. Mount Paran QB Niko Vangarelli rushed for a team-leading 76 yards.

What it means – Mount Paran is in its first semifinal since its 2014 state-championship season.

Class A (public)

*Mount Zion (Carroll) 10, Manchester 6: C.J. Ackles threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Iaan Cousin with 23.9 seconds remaining to give Mount Zion the victory over top-ranked and top-seeded Manchester. Mount Zion began the game-winning drive at its 12-yard line with 1:55 remaining and no timeouts. Ackles had a 60-yard completion to Ray Cheeks and a 28-yarder to Cousin to set up the touchdown. Manchester came in averaging 42.3 points per game.

What it means – Mount Zion is in the semifinals for the first time in a football history that dates to 1956. It was Mount Zion’s first victory over a No. 1-ranked team as the Eagles had been 0-14 all-time against teams in the top four. Manchester falls in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.

*Clinch County 21, Mitchell County 0: Trezmen Marshall’s 3-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave Clinch County a 14-0 lead, and the Panthers controlled the clock the rest of the way. Charles McClelland had a 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Clinch County finished with 266 yards rushing. In the first half, Mitchell County had 11 yards of total offense and no first downs.

What it means – Clinch County is in the semifinals for the third consecutive season. It won the title in 2015. Mitchell County finishes 10-2, its best season since 1999.

*Irwin County 21, Macon County 15: Irwin County’s D.J. Lundy scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with less than five minutes to play. Lundy’s 15-yard run in the second quarter gave Irwin County a 7-0 lead, but Macon County pulled even before halftime. Jay Stanley’s 3-yard touchdown run and successful two-point conversion gave Irwin a 15-7 lead in the third quarter.

What it means – Irwin County, seeking its first state title since 1975, is in the semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons and advances to a rematch with ECI, which beat the Indians 44-25 in the 2016 quarterfinals. The season is over for the defending champions, who lost twice this season to Irwin County.

*Emanuel County Institute 49, Charlton County 25: ECI led 28-19 at halftime and pulled away with 21 consecutive points in the second half before giving up a score on the final play of the game. ECI rushed for 407 yards and for the second straight game had two rushers with more than 100 yards – Eric Dixon (15 carries, 156 yards, three touchdowns) and Ty Carswell (16-127-1). Both are 1,000-yard rushers for the season.

What it means – ECI is in the semifinals for the third consecutive season and looking to get the finals for the first time since the 2012 state-championship season. Charlton County finishes 9-3, successfully bouncing back from a 3-6 mark that represented the school’s first losing season since 1988.

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