The Central Carroll Lions and Ringgold Tigers have been unranked and underappreciated all year. Now one of them is assured of a spot in the Class AAA semifinals.
Central went on the road and stunned No. 9 Appling County 46-13, while Ringgold stayed home and eliminated Cedar Grove 37-12. The two Cinderellas meet in the quarterfinals next week at a site to be determined. Central won a regular-season meeting between the two teams, 19-15, on Sept. 13 in Ringgold.
Central (10-2) seized the momentum early against Appling. The Lions scored on Curtis Davenport’s 33-yard run and then stunned the Pirates by implementing and recovering and onside kick. That turned into a field goal and the Central defense never allowed Appling to regain its footing. By halftime Central had a 32-7 lead and was making plans to swap films for the quartrerfinal. Central hasn’t reached the quarterfinal round since 1987.
Ringgold (10-2) last week won a playoff game for the first time in school history. This week another first: the first 10-win season in school history. Quarterback Slade Dale ran for 167 yards and scored two touchdowns and Cody Goins rushed for another 100. Dale, who will play baseball at the University of Georgia, also starred at defensive back and shut down Cedar Grove’s best receiver.
In other games played Friday:
St. Pius eliminates No. 2 Cartersville: The unranked Golden Lions (9-3) went on the road and knocked off the Hurricanes 31-19. St. Pius stuck to its traditional game plan of pounding the football and scored on drives of 73 and 63 yards. St. Pius got 100 yards and two touchdowns from fullback Dalton Wilson.
The Pius defense got a key interception from Fred Dorsey, who also blocked a punt that resulted in points. Cartersville (11-1) was not able to throw the ball effectively in the rain, but the running game was solid with Kalin Heath (95 yards) and Tiamon Pennymon (91) contributing.
Buford thumps Woodward Academy: No. 8 Woodward Academy was no match for top-ranked Buford, which romped to a 40-7 win. The Wolves (12-0) scored three times in less than two minutes near the end of the second quarter to shift the momentum and set the pace for the win. Thomas Wilson scored on runs of 43 and 76 yards and returned a fumbled punt 22 yards. Woodward (9-3) was hurt by the loss of senior quarterback/defensive back Terry Googer, a South Carolina commitment who did not return after hurting his right knee late in the first quarter.
Washington County ends jinx: The No. 3 Golden Hawks (11-0) scored their first win over Peach County, ending a 10-game losing streak to their Middle Georgia rival. Washington County’s A.J. Gray ran 20 times for 248 yards and scored six touchdowns in the 56-16 win.
Callaway breaks new ground: The No. 5-ranked Cavs (11-1) set a school record with their 11th win and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Eddie Culpepper scored four touchdowns to lead Callaway, but the momentum-changer was a 99-yard interception return for at score by Terry Godwin.
Carver gets first shutout: The No. 4 Tigers (11-1) limited Jefferson County to 95 offensive yards and scored all their points in the first half of a 19-0 win. Carver got a touchdown run from Noah Hickey and a pair of TD pass, one from Jawon Pass and another on an option from Khane Pass. Carver advanced to the quarterfinals for the eighth straight season, its first under coach Joe Kegler.
Blessed Trinity beats White County in rematch: No. 10 Blessed Trinity kept it on the ground and beat White County 38-0. The Titans (9-3) beat White 30-0 during the regular season. Seniors Chad Manthey and Carter McManes each ran for two touchdowns in the first half as B.T. built a 28-0 lead. The Titans are in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
The quarterfinal lineup:
St. Pius at Callaway
Carver at Buford
Washington County at Blessed Trinity
Central Carroll at Ringgold