It turned out to be a historical night for the Johnson High football team on Friday.
The Atomsmashers drove all the way from Savannah to Douglasville and came away with the school’s first victory in a state playoff game. Johnson upset Chapel Hill, 33-23, which was also the first postseason win in school history. Johnson moves on to play No. 1-ranked Thomson in the second round.
Johnson (5-6) had not made the postseason since 2008. Since 1959 it had played an eleventh game on just three previous occasions. The Atomsmashers went 10-2 in 1992 and beat Savannah in the region playoff, but lost to Warner Robins 41-0 in the state playoffs.
Johnson took a 25-10 lead in the second half. Shyheim Roberts threw three touchdown passes: a 67-yarder to Darrel Myers, a 55-yarder to Rekwan Cooper, and a 5-yarder to Myers. Roberts also scored on a 13-yard run. Roberts wound up completing 14 of 22 passes for 280 yards, with Myers catching five balls for 152 yards.
Chapel Hill tried to get back in the game with a pair of touchdown passes from Brett Roberts and cut the lead to 25-23. That’s when Johnson’s Corbin Mitchell iced the game with a 43-yard run with 2:18 remaining.
Overshadowed in the loss was the effort by Chapel Hill tailback Tre Mitchell, who rushed 42 times for 260 yards and one touchdown.
Otherwise the Class AAA playoffs didn’t deviate far from form on the first week. All eight No. 1 seeds, the region champions, prevailed in their home games. And only two other No. 3 seeds were able to win on the road: Hart County dismissed Region 5 No. 2 seed Adairsville 32-21, while Rockmart stunned Region 1-AA No. 2 seed Appling County 34-33.
Rockmart 34, Appling County 33: The Yellow Jackets got an 8-yard touchdown run from quarterback Julian Welch with 2:19 remaining and hung on for their first playoff win since 1988. Welch set up the touchdown by completing a fourth-and-8 pass for a first game to keep the drive alive. Rockmart advances to play No. 2-ranked Carver in Columbus.
North Oconee 37, Ringgold 14: The No. 8-ranked Titans won their 10th straight game thanks to a three-touchdown performance by Kawon Bryant. The sophomore rushed for 162 yards and scored on runs of 24, 22 and 13 yards. Zantravious Sheilds added a 55-yard punt return for North Oconee (10-1). North Oconee lost quarterback Nick Colvin to a shoulder injury in the first quarter and safety John Jarrard to an ankle injury in the second quarter.
Thomson 27, Jackson 3: The No. 1 Bulldogs (11-0) overcame the loss of its starting quarterback on the game’s first play and beat the pesky Red Devils. Thomson’s Chris Jordan scored on runs 6 and 69 yards and Torrie Battle scored on a 60-yard run for Thomson. William Bussey iced the game with a 95-yard interception return at the end of the third quarter. Thomson QB Chris Tutt injured his ankle and spent the rest of the night on the sideline on crutches.
Buford 41, Cedar Grove 27: Zavior Hoxie rushed for 107 yards and one touchdown and Joshua Thoms rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wolves (8-3). Cedar Grove’s Jonathan McCreary failed in his effort to break the state’s career passing leader. He needed 305, but was held to 203 yards, completing 24 of 37 passes with one touchdown. Buford QB Montgomery VanGorder threw three touchdown passes.
Blessed Trinity 35, White County 14: The No. 9 Titans got 256 yards passing from Spencer McManes, who connected with Nathaniel Maggio for two touchdowns. The tough BT defense was led by Sam Roberts, who had two interceptions. White County’s Will Brock threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
North Hall 38, Woodward Academy 7: Region 8 champion North Hall bounced back from last week’s loss to Buford with its first playoff win since 2009. Kevin Christmas rushed for 142 yards and Bradley Brown rushed for two touchdowns for the Trojans.
Peach County 35, Jefferson County 21: Greg Williams threw for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the No. 5 Trojans over the scrappy visitors. Peach (10-1) got key defensive plays from Daniel Walton, who scored on a blocked punt and intercepted a pass.