By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
We’re down to the final four on the public and private sides, after Friday night’s outcomes:
No. 9 Charlton County 42, No. 1 Seminole County 0. Who saw this coming? Charlton County (8-4) raced to a 21-0 halftime lead – on 57-yard touchdown run by Andrew Lee and touchdown receptions of 31 and 50 yards by Julian Roberts and Curtis Nixon, respectively – and never looked back en route to stunning previously unbeaten Seminole County (11-1). Charlton County’s defense held Seminole County’s vaunted wing-T offense, which rolled up 400 yards in last week’s first round win over No. 16 seed Wilkinson County, to just two first downs, according to the Albany Herald.
No. 4 Irwin County 56, No. 5 Johnson County 26. Irwin County advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1997, and didn’t need to complete a pass to do so. According to the Tifton Gazette. Irwin County (10-1-1) rushed for more than 500 yards and led 28-0 at halftime on the way to dismantling Johnson County (10-2). Jakyron Young led the way with 120 yards on eight carries, including a 1-yard touchdown. The Trojans cut the lead to 28-12 in the third quarter, after a 60-yard touchdown reception by Michael Taylor from Markel Horne. But Ryan Peterson’s 11-yard touchdown run gave the momentum back to Irwin County, and essentially sealed the win.
No. 6 Hawkinsville 23, No. 3 Clinch County 8. J.D. Burden rambled for 198 yards, 184 in the first half, as the Red Devils stunned the Panthers in Homerville. All the points in the game came in the first half. Hawkinsville (8-3) won its fifth game in a row to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2004, when the Red Devils went 14-0-1 and repeated as Class A state champions after going 15-0 in 2003.
No. 2 Marion County 24, No. 10 Dooly County 21. All-State kicker A.J. Wells booted a 23-yard field goal with 45 seconds left in regulation to send the Eagles into the semifinals for the first time in school history. Dooly County (8-4) led 21-14 with a little more than 4 minutes left in the game after a 4-yard touchdown run by junior Chanin Hamilton. But Marion County senior Johnny Royals’ 25-yard touchdown run – after a long kickoff return by sophomore Lorenzo Smothers – tied the game. The Eagle defense then forced a three-and-out with a little over 3 minutes left to set up the winning drive.
No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 24, No. 8 Darlington 10. The top seed on the private school side jumped out to a 17-0 lead and then hung on to advance to the state semifinals for the third consecutive year. Subbing for senior quarterback Dalton Etheridge, who will miss the rest of the playoffs with a leg injury he suffered last week, sophomore Jordan Long hit receiver Jamal Tookes with a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Chargers (11-0) a 17-0 edge in the first half, after a field goal and a touchdown run by Lane Timpson. But the Tigers (9-3) used a field goal and a 4-yard touchdown run by Trey Edge to trim the lead to 17-10 early in the fourth quarter. But ELCA’s defense throttled Darlington late and Timpson scored on a short touchdown run to seal the win.
No. 4 Calvary Day 33, No. 5 Prince Avenue 14. Calvary Day (10-2) spotted Prince Avenue (10-2) 14 points before scoring 33-unanswered, as the Cavaliers won going away to send the school into the state semifinals for the first time in the program’s history. Michael Peterson threw three touchdown passes – two to Derek Kirkland (25 and 37 yards) and one to Milan Richard (57 yards) – while Robert Hayward scored on runs of 42 and 48 yards.
No. 3 Aquinas 35, No. 6 Mount Paran 33. The Irish (12-0) built a 35-14 lead after two quarters and then hung on to advance to the state semifinals for the first time in school history. Without its top playmaker, junior Ruben Garnett, who was injured early in the contest, Aquinas got huge efforts from its veteran offensive line along with running backs John Morris (3-yard touchdown run, 14-yard touchdown reception) and Daniel Lindsey (53-yard touchdown run), and quarterback Liam Welch (9-yard touchdown run, two touchdown passes). Dorian Walker led the second half comeback for the Eagles (9-3), amassing 235 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
No. 2 Mount Pisgah 15, No. 10 Holy Innocents’ 7. Patriot junior quarterback Aaron Winchester completed 15-of-24 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 149 yards on 24 carries to lead Mt. Pisgah (12-0) to the semifinals for the first time in school history. Holy Innocents’ (7-5), which was 3-4 at one point during the season, drove to the Patriot 25 and 9-yard line in the final period, was turned away both times.