Playoffs: Semifinals in review

Class AAAAAA

Lovejoy 63, North Cobb 42: Travis Custis rushed for 290 yards and scored five touchdowns for Lovejoy, which overcame an early 21-7 deficit to win in the highest-scoring semifinal game in state history. Brandon Davis (79 yards) and Montrell Custis (60) returned interceptions for touchdowns for Lovejoy.

What it means – Lovejoy, looking or its first state championship, returns to the finals after losing to Tucker in the 2011 AAAA championship game.

Norcross 41, Colquitt County 27: Alvin Kamara rushed for 133 yards, surpassed 2,000 for the season and scored on a 65-yard reception that gave Norcross a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. Colquitt County never got closer and failed in its bid to become the first team to make the finals by winning four consecutive road games.

What it means – Norcross moves to 14-0 and makes the state finals for the first time in 55 seasons of playing varsity football.

Class AAAAA

Ware County 24, Northside 17: Ware County’s Xavier Tobler scored on a 1-yard run at the start of overtime, then the Gators stopped Northside on a fourth-and-5 to earn the victory. Northside scored 10 points in the final 20 seconds to force overtime. Tobler scored all three touchdowns for Ware County.

What it means – Ware County avenges a 20-14 loss to Northside in the 2007 Class AAAA final. The Gators will be playing in their third championship game and looking for their first state title.

Gainesville 28, Whitewater 14: Gainesville’s Michael Byrd rushed for two touchdowns as the Red Elephants built a 28-6 lead early in the third quarter. Deshaun Watson rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown and passed for 227 yards and a TD, leaving him 16 yards short unofficially of the state record for career passing yardage.

What it means – Gainesville will be making its seventh appearance in the state championship game and first since losing to Peach County 13-12 in 2009. Gainesville is still seeking its first GHSA title.

Class AAAA

Sandy Creek 35, Monroe Area 0: Sandy Creek held a team with two 1,000-yard rushers to 117 total yards. QB Cole Garvin passed for 207 yards – 112 of those on six throws to Demarre Kitt – for Sandy Creek.

What it means – Sandy Creek wins its 33rd consecutive home game and gets a chance to win its third state championship in four seasons. Monroe Area’s bid to make the finals for the first time is ended.

Ridgeland 28, Marist 27: Darrell Bridges threw a 24-yard halfback pass to Shaqualm McCoy with 36 seconds left for a 28-27 lead, and Ridgeland held on when Marist’s 41-yard field goal attempt for the win hit an upright on the final play. Bridges also scored on an 89-yard run, rushed for 164 yards and threw another TD pass of 57 yards to Vonn Bell.

What it means – Ridgeland makes the state finals for the first time in 24 seasons of playing varsity football and becomes the first school from a Tennessee-bordering county to play for a Georgia title since Dalton in 2001.

Class AAA

Buford 21, Cartersville: Korie Rogers and Thomas Wilson had interceptions that Buford converted into touchdowns to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 14-10 lead. Buford rushed for 224 yards, led by Dontravious Wilson with 84. Cartersville had 171 yards of total offense midway through the second quarter but just 23 the rest of the way.

What it means – Buford is 11-0 in the semifinals since 2000 and will be playing in the finals for the sixth consecutive season. Buford has won seven state titles since 2000 and eight overall.

St. Pius 31, North Hall 6: Jack Spear scored on a 53-yard run in the first quarter to give St. Pius the lead for good, and the Golden Lions pulled away from there. Spear had 72 yards rushing and passed for 68 yards and a TD. St. Pius limited North Hall, which was averaging 344 yards rushing, to 192 yards on 53 carries.

What it means – St. Pius is making its third trip to the state finals and first since 1968, when George Maloof led the Golden Lions to a victory over Gainesville for their only state title.

Class AA

Calhoun 21, Lamar County 14: Lamar County’s fourth-down pass from the Calhoun 36 was intercepted in the end zone by Donnell Anthony on the final play. Calhoun’s Alex Urbano rushed for 160 yards on 24 carries. Calhoun’s Gatorade state player of the year Taylor Lamb was 10-of-14 passing for 64 yards.

What it means – Calhoun will be playing in the state finals for the fifth consecutive season with a chance to defend its 2011 AA championship. The Yellow Jackets have won 41 consecutive home game and 29 straight overall.

Jefferson 42, Greater Atlanta Christian 14: Jefferson QB Bryant Shirreffs rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. His 53-yard run in the second quarter gave Jefferson the lead for good, 21-14.

What it means – Jefferson reaches its first state championship game since 1977 and seeks its first state title. Coach T. McFerrin makes the finals with his fourth school after 1969 Lithonia, 1982 Peachtree and 1995 Elbert County.

Class A (Public)

Dooly County 10, Lincoln County 7: Mark Clark returned a blocked field-goal attempt for Dooly County’s only touchdown. Lincoln County is now 8-3 in semifinals played at home, with two losses coming to Dooly, the other in 1983.

What it means – Dooly County gets its third shot at a state title after losing championship games in 1983 and 2002.

Emanuel County Institute 38, Wilcox County 27: Greg Purcell ran for 119 yards and James Brown had 105 as ECI rushed for 344 yards. Wilcox County QB Makail Grace was 26-of-42 passing for 370 yards, and Johnathan Howard had 16 receptions for 197 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

What it means – ECI improves to 70-9 in a six-year stretch in which the school has reached three finals (2007, 2009, 2012) with a chance to become the only Class A school to win two state titles in that time. The first was in 2007.

Class A (Private)

Prince Avenue Christian 32, Landmark Christian 22: Carl Mattox had touchdown runs of 15 and 75 yards in the first half in a game Prince Avenue led 17-7 late in the third quarter. Zach Graham threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Titus Campbell as all of Prince Avenue’s touchdowns covered 15 yards or more.

What it means – Prince Avenue Christian, which began playing football in 2005, is playing in its first state championship game. The Wolverines lost in the semifinals last season.

Eagle’s Landing Christian 27, George Walton Academy 14: ELCA’s Jevious Terry returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and ran back a blocked field-goal attempt 80 yards for another score. Casey Shubert’s 5-yard TD run made it 20-0 in the first quarter, and Dalton Etheridge scored on a 4-yard run in the third quarter for the final score.

What it means – Eagle’s Landing Christian is playing in the state championship game for the first time since joining the GHSA in 2004. The Chargers won a Georgia Independent School Association title in 1996.

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13 comments Add your comment

Max Sizemore

December 10th, 2012
7:37 am

More on the Ware Co. win (I watched the video Sunday): Down 17-7, NS took the ball on its 12 with 3 minutes left and went 88 yards, scoring on a 3-yard pass with 0:20 to go. It was a nice drive, making good use of timeouts, the sideline, and the spike. Then, the onside kickoff bounced past the Ware cluster of players and was recovered by Northside on the Ware 25. After one play went for naught, the punter (according to the announcer, not Northside’s regular placekicker) made a 42-yard FG for the tie as time ran out. Ware took the ball first in overtime and scored, but on the TD Northside was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play (according to the announcer, arguing with an official) and began its possession on the 30 instead of the 15. An 11-yard slant produced a first down at the 19, but Ware held from there.

Max Sizemore

December 10th, 2012
7:47 am

I also watched the Lovejoy win and Tech fans, you can see your next great A-back (Custis) play this weekend. In 4 years, he’ll be playing in the NFL. I believe Lovejoy, which benefited from some poor decisions from the N.Cobb soph QB, may be the most physically talented team I’ve ever seen. But Norcross has beaten Camden and Colquitt on successive weekends, so it’s hard to pick against it. Should be a close one.

Max Sizemore

December 10th, 2012
7:57 am

I also watched the first half of the Gainesville-Whitewater game live, and I would have to pick the Red Elephants over Ware this weekend simply because Watson is a superlative player. I don’t believe there is a high school defense which can stop Gainesville at this point (I think maybe the Florida Gators would, maybe). Oh Bobby Gruhn, your state championship has finally arrived.

333

December 10th, 2012
8:27 am

Sizemore—Next GREAT A-back? I must’ve missed the “GREAT” ones before Curtis.

Max Sizemore

December 10th, 2012
11:21 am

OK, I’m an idiot. I meant B-back, the north-south guy and the first option in the triple. And, yes, there have been some very good ones, including Jonathan Dwyer of the Steelers.

sportsnut

December 10th, 2012
11:40 am

Hey Max, I agree wth you assesment of Lovejoy. I have been trying to tell people all season but the usual comes back at me”The don’t play anybody”. With talent like this, it does not matter who they play. They can win. This will be the case come saturday night.

sportsnut

December 10th, 2012
1:34 pm

The “Southern Crescent” ,is representing well. Best of luck ELCA ! Clayco is behind you 100%.

lhsalum33

December 10th, 2012
2:40 pm

LOVEJOY, ELCA, and Sandy Creek! Congrats to the Southern Crescent schools representing in the title games! Good luck to all!

Swamp Lizard

December 10th, 2012
4:54 pm

@ sportsnut … Thanks !! We hope to bring a state championship back to Henry Co & the Southern Cresent on Friday. We’ll be pulling for the Wildcats Saturday …. bring it on home !!

Swamp Lizard

December 10th, 2012
4:56 pm

@ lhsalum33 … didn’t want to leave you out … bring it home !! Best of luck !!

sportsnut

December 10th, 2012
5:23 pm

Totally forgot about the Creek. Southern crescent is really representing. Can you imagine all three bringing it home ?

YELLERJACKETZ1

December 10th, 2012
11:27 pm

IM SORRY BUT WHITFIELD COUNTY WHERE DALTON IS AT DOESNT BORDER TENNESSEE

sportsnut

December 11th, 2012
1:11 pm

@ The Cross == Get ready ! That front 7 are lurking around the line of scrimmage. Those corners are shut downs by nature. In those two sentences, I have covered the basic’s of this game. This is where many have failed. They make the mistake of thinking they can do what they are accustomed to. This will be the case for Norcross. This team you are about to face is unlike any other you have seen. This is balance. This is football being played at the highest level in all phases of the game. The defensive unit you about to encounter will make you change your game plan. Certain death awaits in either direction you choose. You need to score to win. You need to score more than your opponent.

That is another area in which you must concern yourself. It is very hard to stop all the ways they can and will score. The running game is what it is. You know that. The passing game is deceptive. Think you got the Qb. rattled ? Not a chance. Seven receivers, not including the backs. Big receivers. Fast receivers. Travis. What can I say.
You will have enough to think about this week Cross.
This one belongs to Lovejoy.
More details to come.