Allatoona used the running game to take control early against South Paulding on Friday but turned to the pass to save itself late.
Cody Sorrells scored what would be the game-winning points with 6:05 to play on a 48-yard reception from Jeremy Uzee as the Buccaneers escaped with a 28-14 victory.
Allatoona (5-0, 5-0), which has won 15 consecutive regular-season games, remained tied with East Paulding for first place in Region 5-AAAAA. South Paulding (2-2, 2-2) came in as one of three teams in the region with one loss but fell a game back in the race for one of the region’s four playoff berths.
Allatoona led 14-0 at halftime, but South Paulding came to life in the third quarter after being able to do nothing offensively in the first two quarters. Chandler Burks caught two touchdown passes – a 50-yarder from running back Jae Bown and a 16-yarder from quarterback Luke Norman, to even the score at 14-14 with 8:15 to play in the game.
But Allatoona recovered. On the sixth play of its next possession, Uzee threw a short pass to the right to Sorrells, who weaved his way through traffic for the 48-yard score.
A pass interference call against South Paulding on a third-and-10 play on Allatoona’s next possession with three minutes left effectively put the game away. Three plays later, Tommy Davis scored the clinching touchdown on a 26-yard run.
Allatoona dominated early, scoring on its second and third possessions. T.J. Herron, who ran for 87 yards in the half and finished with 118 on 29 carries, capped an eight-play, 42-yard drive with a 1-yard run to make it 7-0 with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter. Josh Bettistea added a 5-yard scoring run on the Buccaneers’ next drive, and the lead was 14-0 at halftime.
It could have been worse as Allatoona never had to punt in the first half. Two drives ended when the Buccaneers turned the ball over on downs at the South Paulding 31 and the 11. Another ended when Nathan Shaw’s 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Very little was working for the Spartans in the first two quarters. They ran just 16 offensive plays while Allatoona ran 33, were outgained 176-26 and trailed in first downs 9-1. South Paulding also hurt itself with four offensive penalties and an interception and was sacked three times.
South Paulding – 0-0-7-7 – 14
Allatoona – 7-7-0-14– 28
A – T.J. Herron 1 run (Nathan Shaw kick)
A – Josh Bettistea 5 run (Shaw kick)
SP – Chandler Burks 50 pass from Jae Brown (Cristain Sosa kick)
SP – Burks 16 pass from Luke Norman (Sosa kick)
A – Cody Sorrells 48 pass from Jeremy Uzee (Shaw kick)
A – Tommy Davis 26 run (Shaw kick)