By Stephen Black
Lovett dominated Brooks County 35-12 in a weather-delayed Class AA semifinal in Buckhead. Grant Haley ran for three touchdowns and 120 yards for the host Lions (13-1). Lovett’s defense held Brooks County (12-2) to 76 yards rushing and intercepted Trojans quarterback Malkom Parrish twice. Lovett rushed for 276 yards and had 353 yards of total offense.
Willie Candler hit Jack McGranahan on a 13-yard pass in the first quarter to give Lovett an early 7-0 lead. Haley scored twice in the second and Lovett led 21-0. Ijohn Parrish hit his brother, Malkom, on a 61-yard pass to get Brooks County on the board just before the half.
Haley and Murphy Lee each scored for Lovett in the third quarter to hand the Lions a commanding 35-6 lead.
The game was halted for 30 minutes in the second half due to stormy weather.
On a night where seniors showed up big, a sophomore made the play of the game at the end.
Calvary Day’s Austin Byrd came crashing through an Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy offensive line that had been the driving force behind a 21-point comeback, and stopped a two-point conversion run by ELCA quarterback Jordan Long in overtime to preserve a hard-fought 35-34 win for the Cavaliers and send them to their first championship game in school history.
Calvary Day (11-2), located in Savannah, had taken the lead on the opening overtime possession on a 1-yard run by junior Robert Heyward, which came after a 14-yard completion from senior quarterback Michael Peterson to senior Jordan Walker.
ELCA (11-1), the defending Class A private school champion, scored on its overtime possession when Long rolled to his right, scanned the field and threw to Cameron Stewart in the back of the end zone. Chargers head coach Jonathan Gess elected to go for the win, but Byrd knifed through and
By Robert Haddocks
John Morris caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Liam Welch in the waning seconds to lift Aquinas to a 17-16 victory against Mount Pisgah and send the Fightin’ Irish to their first state championship.
“Going to the Dome, baby,” exclaimed rookie head coach James Leonard, celebrating on the soggy field with faithful fans who made the trip from Augusta.
Aquinas trailed 16-10 and gained possession with 5:32 remaining. The Fightin’ Irish converted on two third downs and two fourth downs to keep their drive and season alive. The game-winning play came on a third down. Facing a third-and-3 with 26 seconds remaining, Welch rolled left and found Morris drifting in the back of the end zone. In a driving rain, the running back leaped and corralled the ball. Aquinas (13-0) will play Calvary Day in the Class A private school final at the Georgia Dome.
Prior to the drive, Aquinas had thrown the ball only six times, completing five passes for 1 yard. But Leonard
Compiled by Score Atlanta
Berrien 66, Clinch County
Blessed Trinity 40, Decatur 39
Brookstone 80, First Presbyterian 63
Cedar Grove 69, McNair 63
Dawson County 66, Banks County 52
Greater Atlanta Christian 107, Southwest Atlanta Christian 38
Marietta 56, Hillgrove 54
Miller Grove 60, Southwest DeKalb 51
North Atlanta 70, Lakeside-DeKalb 57
Peachtree Ridge 57, Duluth 56
Perry 75, Mary Persons 52
Pope 53, Cambridge 51
Stephenson 78, Clarkston 34
West Hall 54, Westminster 50
Woodward Academy 73, Cross Keys 30
Archer 69, Grayson 35
Beach 61, Laney 57
Campbell 57, Kennesaw Mountain 30
Collins Hill 54, Habersham Central 36
Commerce 51, Oglethorpe County
Creekview 37, Kell 20
Dodge County 43, Warner Robins 38
Forest Park 47, Whitewater 30
Greenforest Christian 59, Landmark Christian 45
Heritage-Catoosa 71, Gordon Lee 62 (OT)
Hillgrove 56, Marietta 20
Holy Innocents’ 65, Our Lady of Mercy 28
Lanier County 48, Wilcox County 35
Lithia Springs 64, North Paulding 36
By Ricky Dimon
Marion County avenged its only loss of the season, a 14-10 setback at Hawkinsville on Nov. 1. The Eagles had home-field advantage this time around and took control right away by racing to a 26-0 lead in the second quarter. Lorenzo Smothers scored three touchdowns, including a 44-yard interception return and an 82-yard run. Corey Johnson also returned a fumble 73 yards for a touchdown for Marion County.
Tucker marched 53 yards in 11 plays to score the winning touchdown with 2:22 left, and the Tiger defense held Gainesville to tie a season low with 14 points, as Class AAAAA No. 1 Tucker advanced to the state finals with a 20-14 win.
It wasn’t a flashy night for a Tucker offense that’s averaged close to 40 points during the season, and it was marred by penalties early.
But when the Tigers needed a score to avoid overtime against the defending state champs, they had enough in the tank.
The winning drive started on their own 47-yard line, after a Duke Shelley punt return set them up in good field position.
And, with the rain coming down hard, the Tigers (14-0) stuck to the ground game that got them to this point.
All 11 plays on the drive were runs, and Dominick Sanders took it the final 6 yards for the score that put Tucker in front for the first time.
After that, the defense just needed one more stop.
Stops haven’t been easy to come by for Gainesville opponents, against
By Ricky Dimon
Washington County scored all 37 points in the first half before coasting through the fourth quarter with a running clock. Melvin Hill scored four touchdowns for the host Golden Hawks, including one on a 99-yard punt return late in the second quarter. Hill opened the scoring with a 59-yard run and plunged in from two yards with 16 seconds left in the first half. D.J. Sanders hauled in a 68-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Gray.
By David Purdum / For the AJC
Defending champion Buford knocked off Callaway, 24-14, Friday to advance to the state championship game for the seventh straight year. But it wasn’t easy.
Joshua Thomas rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Wolves overcome their first halftime deficit of the season.
No. 1 Buford will play No. 3 Washington County in the AAA championship game at 5:30 p.m., Dec. 13 in the Georgia Dome.
Tez Parks and Eddie Culpepper ran for touchdowns in the first half for the Cavaliers (12-2), who set a school mark in wins this season.
Buford marched right down the field on the game’s opening possession, but Matthew Bonadies hooked a short field-goal attempt. Callaway responded with quick scoring drive, capped by a 22-yard touchdown run by Parks that put the Cavs ahead 7-0.
After a Thomas touchdown run tied the score, Culpepper plowed in from 1 yard out on 4th and goal to give Callaway the lead back. The Cavaliers ran off the field to a standing
After its defense got shredded on the game’s opening possession, Creekside solved the Kell offense and rolled into its first state finals appearance.
The Seminoles (14-0) got 219 yards and three touchdowns from senior Dexter Knox and junior Bricen Terry added 123 yards and three touchdowns of his own in a 55-10 win, the third time this year they’ve topped 50 points.
Creekside, which lost to Statesboro in its only previous semifinals appearance in 2000, left little doubt in this one.
The Seminoles rushed for 438 yards and out-gained Kell 462-301. They converted a pair of Longhorm mistakes into touchdowns to key a 21-point second quarter, then turned the game into a laugher with two more scores in the first five minutes of the second half.
Overall, Kell committed four turnovers, including three interceptions.
On the opening possession Kell (13-1) ran nine straight running plays for 75 yards, moving from its 24-yard line to the Creekside 1 before settling for Cameron Massung’s
By Ricky Dimon
Tyler Scandrett kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired to send Lamar County past Benedictine 10-7. The host Trojans trailed 7-0 at halftime but scored 10 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes. Benedictine opened the scoring late in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by J.J. Gaines. Lamar County finally answered late in the third quarter when Lance Austin hit Ray Lions with a 17-yard scoring strike on a fake field goal.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club this week announced its annual Early Season All-Metro Teams comprising 25 boys and 25 girls in the metro Atlanta area.
The teams were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors made up of area coaches within the metro Atlanta region.
The Tipoff Club will select metro players of the year and a Mr. and Miss Georgia Basketball at the end of the season. All honorees will be recognized at the season-ending Naismith Awards banquet in Atlanta.
COLLEGE OF CHOICE
The picks get tougher each week in the playoffs, and none have been more difficult than this week’s semifinals, particularly in AAAAAA and AAAAA. McEachern and North Gwinnett have escaped the past two weeks on the road, so look for McEachern to take advantage of being at home and knock off the top-ranked Bulldogs. It’s tempting to pick Colquitt County as well, but it’s hard to imagine a championship game in the highest classification without a Gwinnett County team involved, so I’m sticking with Norcross. I’ll take Creekside and Gainesville in the AAAAA games, although it makes me uneasy to pick against Tucker.
THE WEEKEND PREDICTIONS
Last week: 20-8 (.714); Playoffs: 130-34 (.793); Overall: 1,878-440 (.810)
It’s unusual for a No. 3 or a No. 4 seed to make it to the state finals, but it will happen tonight with the winner of the North Gwinnett-McEachern game. Here are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds that have made the semifinals since 1996, when the GHSA first allowed third- and fourth-place teams from a region to make the state playoffs.
3 – North Gwinnett (AAAAAA)
3 – McEachern (AAAAAA)
4 – Colquitt County (AAAAAA) lost
4 – Lassiter (AAAAA) lost
4 – Landmark Christian (A) won
3 – Colquitt County (AAAAA) won
3 – Grayson (AAAAA) lost
4 – Lovett (AA) lost
4 – Savannah Christian (A) won
3 – Colquitt Co. (AAAAA) lost
3 – Rockdale Co. (AAAA) lost
4 – Flowery Branch (AAA) lost
3 – Flowery Branch (AAA) won
3 – Fitzgerald (AA) lost
3 – Chamblee (AAA) lost
4 – Cook (AA) lost
4 – *Peachtree Ridge (AAAAA) won
3 – St. Pius (AAAA) lost
3 – Shaw (AAA) won
3 – Lovett (AA) lost
3 – LaGrange (AAA) lost
3 – M.L. King (AAA) lost
3 – Dublin (AA)
Four Georgia high school football teams won state championships for the first time in their histories in 2012. They were Norcross, Gainesville, Jefferson and Eagle’s Landing Christian.
The trend toward new might be building steam again in 2013 as the football playoffs reach the semifinals tonight with 14 games statewide.
Ten of the 28 semifinal teams are one victory from playing in their first state championship games. They are Kell and Creekside in AAAAA, Callaway and Ringgold in AAA, Lamar County and Benedictine in AA and Aquinas, Mount Pisgah Christian, Calvary Day and Marion County in A.
Two others – McEachern and North Gwinnett – have been in championship games but never won. Those Class AAAAAA teams play each other tonight at McEachern.
From 2001 through 2005, there were only three first-time state champions. Over the past five seasons, there have been 11.
Here are some other things worth knowing about tonight’s 14 semifinal games.
*Heads or tails: The home team is 32-22
By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here’s a quick look at the semifinals. In a huge contrast, the public side has two rematches from this season while the private side has two first-time matchups. Also, we have another installment of “Coach Speak” with Irwin County’s Jonathan Lindsey:
No. 9 Charlton County (8-4) at No. 4 Irwin County (10-1-1). Irwin County won the first meeting between the Region 2 rivals, 29-26, in the regular season finale on Nov. 8, thanks to a 33-yard field goal in the final seconds by Eric Contreras. The all-time series between the two schools is 17-17. Irwin County had won the first 15 meetings from 1966 to 1989. Then Rich McWhorter took over in Folkston and Charlton County won the next 17 games from 1990 to last season, when Irwin ended the run with a 55-34 win in the regular season. Irwin County, located about an hour east of Albany, has improved steadily during head coach Jonathan Lindsey’s three years in Ocilla, going