By Stephen Black, Sean Conway, Ricky Dimon and Alex Ewalt
As expected, the quarterfinals provided a few surprises and several memorable games. Northside-Warner Robins edged Tucker, Marist slid past Stockbridge, Norcross left Camden County with a win, and Gainesville’s DeShaun Watson once again put up video game-like numbers. See our recaps below for information on these games and more.
Norcross 34, Camden County 20: Norcross went on the road to secure the program’s first-ever semifinals berth. Norcross running back Alvin Kamara rushed 27 times for 158 yards and even threw a touchdown pass on a trick play. Norcross scored twice to put the game away after trailing 20-19, with Joseph Wilber throwing a touchdown pass to Trey Smith and Kamara icing the victory with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Gainesville 64, Harris County 13: DeShaun Watson went wild yet again, throwing for five touchdowns and adding two more on the ground as Gainesville hammered host Harris County. Watson had 421 yards and six total touchdowns by halftime, at which point the Red Elephants led 43-7. Caleb Hayman hauled in three of Watson’s scoring strikes, while Tray Harrison and Michael Byrd caught the other two. Chris Byrd and Jay Gaudelock added touchdown runs in the fourth quarter for the exclamation points.
Northside-Warner Robins 23, Tucker 20: Northside-Warner Robins treated its home crowd to a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Tucker. The Eagles trailed 13-3 going into the fourth quarter before Curtis Martin scored both of his rushing touchdowns, including one from 56 yards out. Martin finished with 149 yards on 13 carries. Tucker still led 20-16 thanks to Juwaan Williams’ third rushing score of the game, but Glenn Smith hit Keshun Hill from 10 yards out for the game-winning score with 24 seconds left.
Ware County 14, Stephenson 0: Ware County defeated visiting Stephenson in a defensive battle, holding the Jaguars to just 63 total yards. Ware County gained 198 total yards, 101 rushing and 97 passing, but a 25-yard touchdown run from quarterback Jamar Johnson in the first quarter and a 3-yard scoring run from Xavier Tobler in the third proved to be enough. Ware County’s Tremon Porter had two interceptions.
Whitewater 24, Allatoona 3: Whitewater held visiting Allatoona scoreless for over three quarters to get the win. Running back Kendall Conley punched in two touchdowns on short runs in the first and fourth quarter on the way to rushing for 70 total yards. Defensive end Matt Ogle intercepted an Allatoona pass in the second quarter to set up Whitewater’s other touchdown, a 20-yard run by quarterback Jay Ashley. Whitewater also scored on a 37-yard field goal by Sam Leathers.
Monroe Area 47, South Effingham 8: Monroe Area raced to a 31-0 halftime lead and built a 40-0 advantage going into the fourth quarter as it coasted past visiting South Effingham. Kwan Brooks opened the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown run before adding a 17-yard scoring jaunt in the third quarter. Junior Reed also had two rushing touchdowns for the Hurricanes. Defensive tackle Travis Butts recorded a safety for Monroe Area with a quarterback sack in the endzone to make it 33-0.
Ridgeland 45, Mary Persons 14: Darrell Bridges rushed for four touchdowns to lead host Ridgeland past Mary Persons. The game’s first three scores came via Bridges’ legs and Evan Courtney added a 44-yard field goal as the first-half clock expired to account for a 24-0 Panthers’ lead. Bridges added a 31-yard scoring jaunt in the third quarter before Vonn Bell and Shaqualm McCoy had touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to put away Mary Persons.
Buford 31, Carver-Columbus 7: Carver-Columbus led 7-0 in the second quarter following an interception return for a touchdown, but visiting Buford scored 31 unanswered points to pull away. The victorious Wolves took the lead in the third quarter on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Montgomery VanGorder to Isaac Nauta. Josh Thomas added a 5-yard scoring run for the Wolves before they iced it in the fourth quarter when Bryson Jordan returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown.
Cartersville 21, Thomson 13: Cartersville quarterback Brooks Barden threw two touchdown passes. Host Cartersville opened the scoring with a Barden touchdown pass to Hayes Linn, then Thomson took back the lead with touchdowns from William Bussey and Torrie Battle, who took the snap from a Wildcat formation before scoring. Cartersville got a touchdown run from Kalin Heath in the third quarter, and Barden threw his second touchdown to T.L. Ford in the fourth.
North Hall 52, Peach County 10: Host North Hall jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and accumulated 430 yards rushing in the game. T.J. Tate ran for touchdowns of 5 and 48 yards and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brad Brown, while leading the team in rushing with 182 yards. Kevin Christmas racked up 172 yards on the ground and scored twice. Both quarterbacks, Brown and Andrew Smith, ran for touchdowns.
Calhoun 49, Brooks County 14: Quarterback Taylor Lamb was 23-of-31 passing for 365 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for two scores, accounting for six of the Yellow Jackets’ seven touchdowns. Running back Alex Urbano rushed nine times for 122 yards, including a long of 99 yards for a touchdown. Calhoun led 28-7 at halftime.
Jefferson 53, Fitzgerald 51 (3OT): Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs connected with Tristen Jackson for a touchdown in the third overtime to tie the game at 51-51, then hit Jackson again for a two-point conversion to give host Jefferson the win. Shirreffs totaled 228 yards passing including another earlier touchdown to Jackson. On the ground, Shirreffs rushed for 81 yards and another touchdown. Sammy Williams contributed a pair of rushing touchdowns for Jefferson.
Greater Atlanta Christian 27, Early County 24: Brandon Holzgrefe hit a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give host Greater Atlanta Christian the win after Early County had tied the game with 58 seconds remaining. Spartans quarterback Rafe Chapple was 15-of-27 passing for 133 yards, with touchdown passes to Chris Williams and Darius Slayton, and running back Kyle Scales rushed 19 times for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Lamar County 34, Lovett 28: In a Class AA quarterfinal from Buckhead, coach Franklin Stephens’ Lamar County squad held off host Lovett. Lamar County quarterback Lance Austin hit wide receiver Lawrence Austin on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:40 left to seal the win for the Trojans, which took a 34-21 lead after the score. Austin finished 6-for-6 through the air for 141 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 96 yards and a score. Lovett quarterback Willie Candler completed 13 of 16 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 80 yards and one score.
Dooly County 34, Seminole County 28: Dooly County trailed host Seminole County 21-7 in the second quarter but came back to earn the win. A.J. Smith passed for 255 yards and four touchdowns to lead the victorious Bobcats. Smith hit Cortney Clark from 27 yards out to pull within 28-26 before throwing the game-winner to Kris Lundy, a connection of 24 yards with nine minutes remaining. Thomas Aiken led Seminole County with 212 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Eagle’s Landing Christian 42, Savannah Christian 7: Quarterback Dalton Etheridge led host Eagle’s Landing Christian with 75 rushing yards and three scores on 10 carries. In the air, Etheridge threw for 189 yards and connected with Davis Carrandi and D.J. Curl on touchdown throws. Lane Timpson scored the other touchdown for Eagle’s Landing Christian on a 1-yard run. Curl also intercepted a Savannah Christian pass, one of three turnovers.
Emanuel County Institute 27, Trion 10: James Brown led host Emanuel County Institute with 179 yards rushing and an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Quarterback Caleb Pressey found Jacoby Boatwright for an 11-yard touchdown pass, his only completion of the game on three attempts, and Greg Purcell (8 yards) and Michael Sutton (2 yards) added rushing touchdowns for the victorious Bulldogs. Trion quarterback Scotty Bethune had 76 yards rushing and one touchdown pass.
George Walton Academy 37, Walker 7: Stanley Williams carried 18 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns as George Walton Academy jumped on Walker early. The visiting Bulldogs led 23-0 at the half thanks to scoring runs from Williams, Tyler Jarvis and quarterback Hunter Rice plus a 32-yard field goal booted by Cole Fisher. Demetrios Mason put his team ahead 37-0 with a 47-yard punt return for a late touchdown before Walker finally scored.
Landmark Christian 38, First Presbyterian 24: Host Landmark Christian broke open what was a 14-7 game at the half with three third-quarter scores. Running back Jeremiah Kirkland scored from 41 yards out after the War Eagles recovered a First Presbyterian fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half. Also in the third, wide receiver Josh Nobles caught a 16-yard scoring pass from quarterback Stockton McGuire, a freshman who was 11-for-14 through the air.
Lincoln County 28, Wilkinson County 22: Ben Turner passed for 234 yards and one touchdown—to Zireycus Letman from 31 yards out—as host Lincoln County held off Wilkinson County. The victorious Red Devils led 14-0 in the first quarter but found themselves tied at halftime. They got two touchdown runs from Mikey McIntyre, including one that put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. Jamar Norman added a punt return for a score to help Lincoln County advance.
Prince Avenue Christian 24, Athens Academy 7: Visiting Prince Avenue Christian grinded out 235 yards on the ground. Running back Carl Mattox led the charge with 19 carries for 127 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Zack Graham also rushed for a touchdown an intercepted a pass while playing defense. Tyler Foster added a field goal before running back Bryce Huff finished the scoring for Prince Avenue Christian with a 3-yard dash.
Wilcox County 39, Marion County 21: Wilcox County quarterback Makail Grace threw for four scores and ran for another. The victorious hosts exploded for a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, then earned a 26-7 lead by halftime. In defeat, Marion County running back James Taylor had 24 carries for 127 yards and two scores. Taylor also caught a 54-yard touchdown pass for quarterback DeMarquez Mallard.