First Round football roundup

Photo by Sonny Kennedy

It was a memorable Friday night for Class AAAAAA Region 8 and it all started with Central Gwinnett. Making his first-ever varsity start, sophomore quarterback Nick Partlow ran Central Gwinnett’s game-winning touchdown with 7:20 left to upset North Gwinnett 12-9. Host North Gwinnett, the top seed in Class AAAAAA Region 7, led 9-0 at the half after a 39-yard Brad Harvey field goal and a three-yard touchdown run from senior Jordan Weddington. Nigel Adams ran in Central’s first touchdown from nine yards out and finished with a game-high 63 rushing yards on 19 carries. Central recorded five sacks and held North Gwinnett to 160 total yards of offense. Central made it a clean sweep for Region 8 as Grayson beat Mill Creek 24-6, Dacula knocked off Peachtree Ridge 17-14 and Archer ran past two-time defending state champion Norcross 38-22.

Archer 38, Norcross 22: Archer led just 21-14 halfway through the third quarter, but a Gabe Tiller touchdown pass to Dylan Singleton with 10:29 in the fourth quarter and a Singleton run with two minutes remaining sealed the home victory. Tiller was 18-of-26 passing for 289 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and rushed for a score. Randy Nails had six receptions for 173 yards and a score to go along with 75 yards rushing and a touchdown while Jamyest Williams added 62 yards receiving and 30 yards rushing for Archer.

Langston Hughes 42, North Cobb 28: The host Panthers outscored the Warriors 21-7 in the second half as it was led by a three-headed rushing attack. Demetrius Whitmore stood out as he totaled 200 yards, including 160 on the ground, and scored four touchdowns in the contest. Senior Donovan Johnson chipped in offensively for 97 yards and a pair of scores. Warrior quarterback Tyler Queen was held in check during the contest. The senior was intercepted twice and was sacked three times.

McEachern 23, East Coweta 3: After a slow start, McEachern pulled away from a tough East Coweta team. Quay Holmes scored the only touchdown of the first half for home standing McEachern on a 12-yard touchdown run. Entering the second half, the score was 7-3 and remained that way until the fourth quarter. Tyler Smith returned a punt 46 yards and Allen Cooper added a safety to move McEachern ahead 16-3. Bailey Hockman hit Devonne Boyce for a 48-yard score to finish the scoring. Hockman finished with 148 yards passing.

Milton 37, Northview 0: Austin McLeod was 13-of-16 passing for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and Micco Brisker rushed 20 times for 115 yards and a 2-yard touchdown to lead host Milton. Obe Fortune had 62 yards receiving and caught touchdowns of 21 and 12 yards, and Nathan Cranor had a 22-yard touchdown reception. Chris Turner added 62 yards rushing and a 20-yard touchdown run for the Eagles, who led Northview 21-0 at halftime.

Newton 27, Valdosta 14: Ramario Johnson passed for three touchdowns, including two in the all important third quarter when Newton took control of the game, to lead the Rams past Valdosta. Johnson completed touchdown passes of six and 11 yards to Jeremiah Holloman and 14 yards to De’Andre Huff. Huff also scored on a 20-yard interception return early in the second quarter. After leading 14-7 at halftime, Newton took control of the game by scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter. Valdosta got touchdowns from Tim McClain on a three-yard run and Ricco Ramsey on a one-yard pass from Seth Shuman. Newton gained 302 total yards of offense and held Valdosta to minus-27 yards rushing. Johnson completed 21 of 33 passes for 189 yards. He also led the Rams in rushing with 60 yards on 13 carries.

Tucker 31, Tift County 29: Tucker held off Tift County after a 31-yard field goal from Camri Shakir pushed the score to 31-23, and a failed two-point conversion left the visiting Blue Devils two points short at Hallford Stadium. Garrett Rigby was 4-of-8 passing with two touchdowns, one each to Joshua Vann (49 yards) and Elijah Sullivan (67 yards). Delvin Weems had 18 caries for 107 yards and a touchdown. Sullivan added 77 yards on 12 carries.

Westlake 41, North Paulding 13: Justin Broughton ran in a 19-yard touchdown and Dakota Rocker tossed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Malik Willis before Broughton’s second rushing score put host Westlake up 21-0. North Paulding kicked a field goal and Ronnie Blackmon returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a Westlake touchdown. Rocker threw a touchdown pass to Jamauri Elliott in the fourth quarter and Hasaan Patterson iced the game with an 80-yard touchdown run to make it 41-13.


Creekside 44, New Manchester 27: Host Creekside ran out to a 31-14 lead at the half as it was led by a dominant rushing attack that totaled 400 yards on the ground. Tysean Carter ran for a game-high 242 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. Gino Appleberry chipped in on the production with 65 yards and a rushing score. Quarterback Bryson Terry had an efficient game, completing 5-of-8 passing for 127 yards.

Dalton 23, Salem 6: After a slow first half that saw Dalton outgained 198-109, the Catamounts came alive in the second half to put away Salem. Kelvis Rhodes scored on a four-yard run after a Kiko Rodriguez 22-yard field goal to give Dalton a 10-6 advantage at the half. Rhodes added his second score of the night on a 41-yard run with 5:13 remaining in the fourth to go up 17-6. Jordon McKinney picked off a pass that led to a Peyton Veraldi 25-yard touchdown toss to Zek Cobb to ice the game.

Gainesville 42, Creekview 37: The Red Elephants held on to become the remaining Region 8 team left in the playoffs. Mikey Gonzalez finished 17-of-25 for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Messiah Dorsey caught nine passes for 97 yards and two scores. Dorsey also threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Lackey. Michael Byrd ran for 217 yards and one score on 26 carries. The Elephants finished with 427 total yards. The Grizzlies were led by BJ Smith who ran for two scores while Kyle Wilkie tossed a touchdown and scored on a three-yard run. Dawson Ewers added a 95-yard kick return in the loss.

Kell 31, Winder-Barrow 7: Ivan Walls scored all three of his rushing touchdowns in the first half for host Kell on runs of 33, 3 and 26 yards to put the Longhorns up 21-0 at halftime. Cameron Rosendahl found Emmanuel Dennis for a touchdown pass, and Julian Chang added a 38-yard field goal for Kell. The Longhorns turned Winder-Barrow over three times with a fumble recovery and two interceptions.

Mays 26, South Paulding 19: Asahnia Aderhold found Tyshawn Brown for a touchdown pass with three minutes to play for the go-ahead score, then hit Carey Wimberly on a two-point conversion. Mays then held host South Paulding on a goal-line stand as Juwan Williamson broke up a pass on fourth down, allowing Mays to run out the clock. Aderhold also had a rushing touchdown, and Shiheem Rutherford returned a fumble for a touchdown for Mays. Charlie Patrick’s rushing score cut the South Paulding lead to 19-18.

Sequoyah 24, Lanier 21: Using an Ethan Riggle 25-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining, visiting Sequoyah shocked undefeated Lanier. Sequoyah jumped out to an early 14-0 lead after a 50-yard scoop-and-score from Austin Richardson, but saw the lead disappear heading into the half tied at 14. Lanier went ahead 21-14 after Tahj Tolbert connected on one of his two long touchdown passes to Tim Leazer. Tre Mitchell scored twice on the ground for Sequoyah in the wild win.

Stephenson 41, Alexander 27: Stephenson racked up 515 yards rushing and four scores on the ground to hold off an Alexander comeback. Dewann Ford Jr. went 2-for-4 for 92 yards and two scores connecting on touchdowns of 40 yards and 52 yards for Stephenson. Baylor Whitfield hit on 22 of his 40 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns for Alexander. Mikell Lands-Davis carried 16 times for 100 yards while Isaac Zico recorded seven catches for 111 yards in the loss.

Stockbridge 36, Brunswick 6: An inauspicious start for visiting Brunswick set the tone for Stockbridge. The Tigers blocked a punt in the end zone which was recovered by Brunswick resulting in a safety. Artemus Mitchell began to gash the Brunswick defense in the second quarter and scored on a short run to make it 9-0. Josh Amanfo collected a 71-yard pick six to end the half putting Stockbridge ahead 23-0. Mitchell scored again on a 32-yard run in the third. Brunswick’s lone score came on a 65-yard interception return.

Ware County 45, Starr’s Mill 10: Ware County scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to dominate Starr’s Mill. After Starr’s Mill cut the lead to 17-10 in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Rico Frye, Ware got touchdowns from Quayshawn Taylor (3-yard run), Tyler Rawls (8-yard run), Kent Jackson (interception return) and Alyx Sayles (9-yard run) to advance to the second round. Ware took a 3-0 lead early in the game on a 26-yard field goal by Tom Etheridge. Starr’s Mill tied the score on a 22-yard field goal by Brandon Oot. Ware took the lead again when Dedrick Mills scored on a 23-yard run, then led 17-3 after Terrence Dukes scored from the one. After Starr’s Mill trimmed the lead to seven, Ware took control of the game.

Class AAAA

Burke County 37, Locust Grove 15: A quick start lifted the Bears over the visiting Wildcats. Jocquez Habersham scored on runs of one yard and 10 yards out in the victory. Caleeb Roberson had touchdown runs of 24 and 10 yards to give Burke County a commanding 25-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.  A 35-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Maddox to Aubry Payne broke the shutout. Keyon Williams provided the Bears with a 32-yard touchdown reception in the win.

Griffin 46, Liberty County 12: Host Griffin exploded for 34 points in the first half. Quarterback Tyler Morton was part of the offensive team effort as he tossed a touchdown pass to Darqavious Mangham and Chris Owens for 15 and five yards respectively. The ground game was strong as well for the Bears. Malik Miller scored on a 15-yard run while Isaiah Spruill scored from 35 yards out as Griffin advances to the next round.

North Oconee 49, Gilmer 6: Kawon Bryant ran wild en route to five touchdowns as the Titans torched the visiting Bobcats. Bryant tallied 349 yards on 30 carries. He had 135 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. Tate Adcock went 5 of 11 for 59 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Gaubert was on the receiving end of Adcock’s 14-yard touchdown toss. Mark McDaniel tacked on a 1-yard touchdown run in the rout.

St. Pius 24, Fayette County 0: Visiting Fayette County was shutout while Grant Holloman carried the load for St. Pius, carrying 11 times for 134 yards and two scores. Dalton Wilson rushed 16 times for 51 yards and one touchdown. Michael Matthews booted a season long 43-yard field goal in the win. St. Pius finished with 327 total yards of offense while holding Fayette County to 171. Brian O’Reilly led the Lions with eight tackles.

Wayne County 14, Eagle’s Landing 6: Eagle’s Landing struck first on a Mac McDonald pass that was tipped into the hands of Antonio Gibson for an 83-yard touchdown. Wayne County’s Anfernee Jordan punched in a pair of scores to gain and extend the lead to 14-6. With under 30 seconds left, a Yellow Jacket fumble in victory formation gave the Eagles three shots at the end zone, but the Wayne County defense stopped them all three times, preserving the win.

Class AAA

Blessed Trinity 48, Hephzibah 13: Host Blessed Trinity scored 41 points in the first half thanks to a running attack that totaled 342 yards on the ground. Joe Anderson led the effort, running for a game-high 141 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Connor Davis was efficient through the air as the quarterback completed seven-of-nine passing for 79 yards. The Titans defense allowed just 141 total yards while forcing four turnovers, including a pick-six by Colin Davis.

Hart County 42, East Hall 14: Cameron Fouch passed for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead Hart County past East Hall. Fouch threw touchdown passes to Anthony Turner (nine yards), Zach Maldonado (10 yards) and Tyrondrick Thomas (33 yards). His one-yard touchdown run, coming just before halftime, gave Hart a 21-0 lead. Hart County also got a 20-yard touchdown run from Keenan Dillion and a 25-yard interception return from Joshua Gaines. East Hall scored the final 14 points after the game had been decided.

Oconee County 42, West Hall 38: Quarterback Zeb Noland completed three touchdown passes, including a 44-yarder to Roques Dowdy with 59 seconds remaining to lead Oconee County. He also scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run. Oconee jumped to a 14-0 lead after Noland passed to Dylan Phillips for a six-yard touchdown, then to Chase Major for a 56-yard score. West Hall cut the lead on an 18-yard touchdown run by Tyquan Osborne. Noland’s 1-yard touchdown gave Oconee a 21-7 lead, but West Hall responded with a 9-yard run by Tyrese Osborne. Oconee then scored twice, on Christian Casey’s 3-yard run and a Jaleel Laguins’ 5-yard run to take what appeared to be a commanding 35-14 lead at the half. But West Hall battled back with three unanswered second-half touchdowns – Kwon Williams from 21 yards, Isaiah Rowe from the one, Williams on a 77-yard run – and a 32-yard field goal by Brad Hodgson with 3:41 remaining to take a 38-35 lead. That set the stage for Noland’s game-winning pass.

Pierce County 49, Jackson County 21: Three Stetson Bennett touchdown passes led the way for the Bears over visiting Jackson County. Michael Bush, Stetson Smith, and Terrell Carter all caught touchdowns. Bush also scored on a 2-yard run while Carter added a 10-yard rushing touchdown of his own. Josh Henderson racked up over 100 yards on the ground and finished with a pair of three yard scores.

Washington County 73, Jackson-Atlanta 28: AJ Gray and the Golden Hawks over-powered visiting Jackson-Atlanta thanks to four first half Gray touchdowns and an interception from Gray on defense. A 19-yard touchdown pass to Jaquavious Latimer got the scoring started for WACO. Gray ran for a 9-yard touchdown before Quentavious Monday found Orenzo Smith for a touchdown and conversion to bring the score to 14-8. That would be as close as the Jaguars would get however, as Gray immediately answered on a 63-yard run. Gray proceeded to intercept a pass and set up a Darius Tucker touchdown to expand the lead to 28-8. A 65-yard run from Gray and a 28-yard field goal for the Golden Hawks ended the half at 38-8.

Westminster 35, Laney 12: Keller Harper ran in two rushing touchdowns and tossed a touchdown pass to Neil Kimble to give host Westminster a 21-0 lead.  Harper’s second touchdown run was set up by a Zay Malcome kickoff return that was downed at the Laney five-yard line. Malcome eventually found the end zone in the third quarter with a 60-yard touchdown run and Merrick Sims capped off the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Class AA

Brooks County 24, Bacon County 17: Brooks County survived a scare from the visiting Red Raiders using a Demontay Jones touchdown pass with 1:48 remaining to clinch the win. Jones completed 12 of his 23 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Exavius Medlock was his main target grabbing 8 passes for 177 yards and one score, but it was Terrell Lamons who caught the late 35-yarder to win the game. Devon Wimms had 93 yards rushing on 20 carries while Ahmad Brown scored on a 4-yard run. The Trojans outgained Bacon County 384 to 256. Tron Folsom did the majority of the damage for Bacon County using his 6-foot-5 frame to catch three balls for 135 yards and one touchdown.

Greater Atlanta Christian 41, Chattahoochee County 13: GAC led 41-0 at halftime, as Micah Abernathy had touchdown runs of 7, 30 and 10 yards and Davis Mills threw touchdown passes to Malcolm Cunningham (30 yards) and Harrison Kerr (5 yards). Abernathy rushed for 115 yards on nine carries to lead the host Spartans, and Mills finished 9-of-11 passing for 108 yards. Paul Carothers started the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Lovett 56, Bremen 21: Jay Harris caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Willie Candler and ran in a touchdown to give host Lovett an early 14-0 lead. Candler threw four touchdowns in the first half and Alec White scooped up a Bremen fumble and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to give Lovett a 42-14 halftime lead. Harris added his third touchdown on a nine-yard run in the third quarter before Austin Eiseman ran in Lovett’s final touchdown. Alex Sayles caught two of Candler’s touchdown passes and Jon Thomas hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Candler that gave Lovett its 35-7 lead.

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