By David Purdum / For the AJC
A track meet broke out at the AAAA state championship football game. And Carrollton couldn’t keep up with the state champion Griffin Bears.
Senior quarterback Jaquez Parks accounted for 574 yards with five touchdowns, and Trey Willis caught three touchdown passes and returned a kickoff for another score, leading the Bears to a 56-35 win over Carrollton in the highest-scoring state championship game in Georgia high school history.
It’s the first state championship for the Bears since 1978 and third overall and caps the program’s first unbeaten season.
Parks finished with 338 yards passing and four touchdown passes. He sealed the victory with a 73-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Willis caught touchdown passes of 53, 30 and 10 yards, and returned a kickoff 98 yards in the third quarter to help Griffin (15-0) take command.
“We’re going to take this championship trophy back to Griffin and celebrate,” said Parks, who has scholarship offers from Harvard and Yale, among others.
Carrollton (13-2) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead early, but found itself down at intermission, after a wild first half that featured 62 points, a surprise onside kick from Griffin, a successful fake punt by Carrollton and a 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Griffin’s Ryan Cochran.
“I told everyone, the players, my coaches, that we would win this game,” said Willis of the early deficit. “We came out poised. Our fans were behind us and we really fed off them.”
Trey Chivers scored on runs of 13 and 9 yards and caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Will Garrett in the first quarter. Griffin answered with a pair of long touchdown pass from Parks to Willis. Carrollton led 21-14 after one.
The Bears (15-0) took their first lead on a 1-yard plunge from Tully Sloan with eight minutes left in the second quarter, and Cochran scooped up a Jarvis Terrell fumble on 1st and goal and raced 90 yards to put Griffin up 35-24 with 4:33 left in the quarter.
The 91 points scored eclipses the former record set in 2010 by Brookwood’s 52-38 win over Colquitt County in the AAAAA championship game.
Garrett passed for 204 yards with a touchdown for Carrollton (13-2). The Trojans overcame a Week 10 home loss to defending champion Sandy Creek to reach the championship game for the second time in four seasons. Carrollton won three road games against ranked opponents in the playoffs, including a thrilling four-overtime win over Marist in the semifinals.
Parks led second-half comebacks in playoff wins over Sandy Creek and Wayne County to lead the Bears to their first state championship game since 1980.
Carrollton 21 6 8 0 — 35
Griffin 14 21 14 7 — 56
C – Trey Chivers 24 run (Tyler Newsome kick)
C – Chivers 9 run (Newsome kick) 14-0 4:46
G – Trey Willis 30 pass from Jaquez Parks (Tristen Mathis kick)
C – Chivers 48 pass from Will Garrett (Newsome kick)
G – Willis 53 pass from Parks (Mathis kick)
C – Newsome 34 field goal
G – Keyston Fuller 80 pass from Parks (Mathis kick)
G – Telly Sloan 1 run (Mathis kick)
G – Ryan Cochran 90 fumble return (Mathis kick)
C – Newsome kick 23 field goal
G – Willis 10 pass from Parks (Mathis kick)
C – Chivers 5 run (Pass to Brandon Walton from Garrett)
G – Willis 98 kickoff return (Mathis kick)
G – Parks 73 run (Mathis kick)