GHSA Football State Championships Friday roundups: First Round

Kalil Townes’ one-yard touchdown run with nine minutes left in the game broke a 6-6 tie and Lovett held on for a 13-6 victory over visiting Westminster. It was the first-ever playoff meeting between the two longtime rivals and also a rematch of the first game of the season.

Westminster won that regular-season encounter — also at Lovett — 14-0, and another defensive struggle ensued in the playoffs. The Wildcats forced two turnovers in the opening quarter, as Wade Penn recovered a fumble and Bobby Yarbrough picked off a Preston Lusink pass, but in two trips inside Lovett’s 10-yard line they could get nothing more than one 25-yard field goal from Josh Brockman. After Townes scored his first touchdown of the night and the extra point was missed, Brockman added another field goal to make it 6-6 at halftime.

Both offenses continued to struggle in the third quarter before the Lions finally got things going with an unlikely score. Pinned back at their own 2-yard line following a perfect punt by Westminster, the Lions marched on a 98-yard drive that culminated in Townes’ second touchdown. The Wildcats twice had the ball in Lovett territory trailing 13-6 late in the fourth quarter, but one drive resulted in a punt and they fumbled a snap inside the red zone with 15 seconds left to end their comeback hopes.

The AJC has writers at Columbia at North Cobb Christian, Mundy’s Mill at St. Pius X and Lanier at Roswell on Friday. On Saturday, the writers will cover South Forsyth at Walton and Harrison at Brookwood. Follow the links to Todd Holcomb’s Friday Night Wrap, the full Prep Scoreboard and Brackets powered by Score Atlanta.

The first round is split between Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Classes 6A, 4A, 2A and Divisions I and II of Class A will play. On Saturday, Classes 7A, 5A and 3A will play.

See the Friday night roundups below.

Class 6A

North Atlanta 30, Lovejoy 17

North Atlanta won its first playoff game in school history after defeating Lovejoy on the road 30-17. North Atlanta jumped out to a 23-0 lead by the break behind a strong performance on offense by senior quarterback Trey Lennon, in addition to the Warriors defense forcing a strip sack in the end zone. North Atlanta will face Houston County in the second round of the playoffs next week.

Allatoona 24, Douglas County 0

Allatoona had a  dominant showing at home to defeat Douglas County 24-0 and advance to the second round. Allatoona held a 17-0 lead at the half thanks to two rushing touchdowns, controlling the game and the clock. Allatoona forced three consecutive three-and-outs in the first quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Allatoona shut down a potent Douglas County offense that averaged 31 points per game heading into Friday night and held them to their first shutout all season in shocking fashion. Allatoona advances to play Roswell in the second round.

Langston Hughes 49, River Ridge 6

Langston Hughes cruised to a 49-6 victory at home against River Ridge. Defensive back Terrance Love got things started for Langston Hughes after he intercepted and returned a 58-yard pick for a touchdown. Langston Hughes held a 28-3 lead at halftime and didn’t let up in the second half, scoring another 21 points. Printess Air Noland had three passing touchdowns and Jekail Middlebrooks had two rushing touchdowns (58 and 75 yards).

North Forsyth 24, Blessed Trinity 21

Two-seeded North Forsyth is moving on in the Raiders’ first trip to the postseason since 2019, snapping Blessed Trinity’s 11-year streak of second-round appearances with the 24-21 victory. Raiders quarterback West Roberts capitalized on a muffed Blessed Trinity punt with a touchdown pass to Zach Shirley for an early 7-0 lead, but the Titans got a 2-yard rushing score and a 14-yarder from Alex Rogers to Cole Weaver for a 14-7 lead heading into the second quarter. Adrian Droze cut the Titans’ lead to 14-10 with a 35-yard field goal, and the Raiders blocked a BT field goal attempt as the first half expired. North Forsyth then took the lead on Roberts’ 8-yard scramble late in the third, and Aiden Ruckh took a Roberts pass 57 yards for a touchdown on 3rd-and-7 in the fourth. Davis got Blessed Trinity within a field goal with a 3-yard run, but the Raiders recovered the onside kick with 2:27 remaining to hang on for the win. North Forsyth will travel to top-ranked Hughes next week.

South Paulding 28, Sequoyah 13

Visiting Sequoyah held a 13-7 lead in the second quarter before senior running back Jamarion Wilcox scored from 3, 11 and 44 yards out to secure South Paulding’s first trip to the second round of the playoffs since 2019. Tyler Leyshon and Hayden Jackson first connected on a 44-yard first-quarter score for the Spartans, who will travel to Gainesville next week. Jackson also recovered a Sequoyah fumble in the second quarter to set up a Wilcox touchdown. The Chiefs turned the ball over on downs to end both the third and fourth quarters after getting first-half touchdown runs from Ean Marria and Jackson Hancock.

Houston County 29, Brunswick 28 (OT)

The fourth-seeded Houston County Bears came away with the first-round upset over host Brunswick with quarterback Antwann Hill Jr’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Walden and successful two-point toss to Recordo Tarver for the 29-28 overtime victory. After Jayden Drayton put Brunswick on the board in the opening frame, Hill threw a trio of touchdown passes to Ricky Johnson (53 yards), Arthur Brown (35 yards) and Tarver (54 yards) for a 21-7 edge in the third. Xavier Ryan recovered a Brunswick fumble shortly after, but Ivan Johnson broke up Hill’s pass in the end zone to force a Houston County turnover on downs, and Drayton scored his second touchdown of the night to cut the Bears’ lead to 21-14 heading into the final frame. Jarrod Elkins found Caleb Butler for a 22-yard Pirate touchdown to tie the game, which went into overtime following a missed Bears field goal as the clock expired. Drayton scored from eight yards out to put Brunswick on top before Hill’s game-winner.

Woodward Academy 41, Riverwood 13

Jalen Wood passed for five touchdowns to lead Woodward past Riverwood and into the second round. Wood passed to Ben Grice (37, 33 yards), Josiah Abdullah (36, 54) and Michael Butler (62) for touchdowns. Hudson Hanges made field goals of 47 and 22 yards for Woodward.

Thomas County Central 49, Evans 10

Thomas County Central led 21-0 after the first quarter and 42-3 at the half in a romp of Evans. Trey Benton, Ricky Fulton and Adam Hopkins each scored two rushing touchdowns and Tyler Floyd scored on a 37-yard run. Campbell Smith was 6-for-6 on point-after tries for the Yellow Jackets.

Gainesville 51, Sprayberry 21

Naim Cheeks scored on a 47-yard touchdown run to open scoring for Gainesville. Sprayberry got on the board with a 68-yard pass from Kemari Nix to Mark Manfred.  Baxter Wright passed to Sky Niblett on a 27-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-7 with 2:26 left in the first quarter. Tre Reece caught a 43-yard pass from Wright on a 1-play drive to extend the lead. Travien Watson caught a 39-yard pass from Wright to put Gainesville up 28-7 early in the second quarter. Niblett’s second touchdown reception, an 18-yarder with 1:29 left before halftime, put the game nearly out of reach. Cheeks scored on a 55-yard run to push the lead to 42-14. Wright passed to Reece on a 7-yard touchdown with 5:42 left in the third quarter, extending the lead. Nix passed to Manfred on a 30-yard pass for Sprayberry’s final offensive production. The Gainesville defense forced a safety with :51 left to put the game away.

Alpharetta 28, Shiloh 26

Alpharetta advances to the second round for the first time since 2017 after defeating Shiloh 28-26 at home. Alpharetta built a 21-0 lead by the 2nd quarter before Shiloh scored 19 unanswered points on two passing touchdowns and one rushing score. Alpharetta added a rushing touchdown, and Shiloh answered with a score on its next drive. Shiloh then forced a turnover on downs with six minutes left in the game and took over at their own 31-yard line, but the Alpharetta defense forced a punt with two minutes left in the game and the Raiders ran out the clock for the win.

Rome 49, Paulding County 0

Javarius McDearmont scored three rushing touchdowns to lead the Wolves past Paulding County and into the second round of the playoffs. McDearmont scored on runs of 25, 28 and two yards in the romp. Quarterback Reece Fountain passed for one touchdown – to Martel Hight – and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.

In other 6A games – Lee County jumped to a 47-0 lead in the first half against Effingham County to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year. The Trojans will take on Woodward Academy next week. …Northside Warner Robins defensive back Nicholas Linder came up with an interception with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter to get the host Eagles a win over Glynn Academy. Northside, a team that reached the quarterfinals last season, will face Marist in the second round.

Class 4A

Troup County 36, New Hampstead 29

Troup County held on to win 36-29 and advanced to the second round after defeating New Hampstead. Troup led 23-14 at halftime after Taeo Todd threw a touchdown pass to Logan Sinkfield with 59 seconds left in the first half. New Hampstead tied the game late in the third quarter at 29-29 after a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to put the pressure on top-seed Troup. Todd connected with Sinkfield again, this time on a 65-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown to give Troup momentum going into the fourth quarter.

Benedictine 34, Whitewater 10

No. 5-ranked Benedictine will advance to the second round for the 11th-straight year following a 34-10 win over visiting Whitewater. After a scoreless opening frame, Whitewater led 7-0 and 10-3 in the second quarter, but the Cadets outscored the Wildcats 31-0 the rest of the game. Quarterback Luke Kromenhoek had a pair of rushing scores and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Thomas Blackshear for Benedictine, which will host Spalding next week.

Wayne County 31, Trinity Christian 13

No. 9-ranked Wayne County led visiting Trinity Christian 21-13 at halftime, then added a touchdown and field goal in the fourth quarter to seal the first-round win. The Yellow Jackets, who went 0-9 last season, are advancing to the second round under first-year head coach Jaybo Shaw and will travel to No. 3-ranked Perry next week.

Stephenson 40, Pace Academy 38

Devin Ingram’s heroics led Stephenson to a thrilling win over visiting Pace Academy. With the Jaguars trailing 38-26 in the fourth quarter, Ingram returned a kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown and then scored the game-winner on a 58-yard run with one minute remaining. Ingram finished with four touchdowns in total, returning another kickoff 70 yards to the end zone to go along with an 8-yard scoring scamper. Terrence Kiel scored four times for the Knights, including an 85-yard fumble return and a 44-yard run.

Cedartown 49, Cedar Shoals 0

No. 1 ranked Cedartown jumped out to a 42-0 halftime lead and improved to 11-0 on the season. Quarterback Reece Tanner threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Harlem Diamond, ran in a 50-yard score on a fake punt and found Demarcus Gardner for a touchdown pass that was set up by Gardner’s interception just before the half. Diamond also added a 20-yard interception touchdown return in the first half. Juelz Davis provided the only points of the second half with his 13-yard touchdown run in the third.

In other Class AAAA games – Walnut Grove picked up its first-ever playoff win by beating Heritage-Catoosa 17-13. It was also Walnut Grove’s first time hosting a playoff game. Ashton Adams threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes and Avery Schnier’s interception with two minutes left clinched victory for the Warriors. … North Oconee scored 49 unanswered points to emphatically erase an early deficit and defeat visiting Sonoraville 49-6. Both Trey Lenhardt and Khalil Barnes returned interceptions for touchdowns. Lenhardt had two interceptions and Barnes also scored a rushing touchdown. … Perry scored on its first six possessions to build a 33-0 halftime advantage over visiting Shaw on the way to a 40-6 victory. Demetrious Carter, Ahmad Gordon and Ahmad Lee had touchdown runs for the Panthers, who also got a touchdown pass from Armar Gordon to Kory Pettigrew. … Logan Sinkfield caught three touchdown passes from Taeo Todd to lead Troup County past visiting New Hampstead 36-29. Sinkfield’s third score late in the third quarter broke a 29-29 tie, preceding a scoreless fourth. Todd and Tray Blackmon had rushing touchdowns for the Tigers. … Spalding scored the last 19 points of the game to sprint past visiting Westover 26-7. Curt Clark ran for a 25-yard touchdown and tossed a 34-yard scoring strike to Dwight Terrell. … Cairo trailed 14-10 in the third quarter but scored 17 unanswered points to beat visiting Westside-Macon 27-14. Braylon Robinson ran for a touchdown and also threw touchdown passes to Corey Baker and Tyree Kelly. Landon Vickers added a pair of field goals for the Syrupmakers.

Class 2A

Dublin 55, Pelham 14

No. 2 seed Dublin opened up a 41-6 halftime lead and scored all eight of its touchdowns on the ground. Jaquarius Evans accounted for three of the scores (18, 3, 5 yards), Kameron Hampton (10, 4) rushed for two touchdowns and Micah O’Neal (5), Trai Baldwin (4) and Demari Foster (64) each added one rushing score.

Rockmart 65, East Jackson 7

No. 7 ranked Rockmart clinched its sixth-straight region title last week and jumped out to a 51-0 halftime lead before cruising to a 64-7 win over visiting East Jackson. The Yellow Jackets are 9-2 on the season and are yet to fall to a Class 2A opponent. They carry a seven-game win-streak and when facing Class 2A opponents this season, Rockmart has outscored its counterparts 368-62, resulting in a 52.6 ppg average and a 38.25 average margin of victory.

Northeast-Macon 41, Worth County 27

Nick Woodford is as advertised. The 5-foot-9, 210-pound back scored five rushing touchdowns to lead the Raiders past Worth County and into the second round. Northeast led 14-6 entering the second quarter and 21-12 at the half. Worth scored an unanswered touchdown in the third quarter to cut into the lead 21-19 and retook the lead 27-21 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Northeast responded with a touchdown run from Cadricus Stanley to tie the game after a missed point-after try. Woodford’s fourth touchdown run gave Northeast a 33-27 lead and his five score, with two minutes left in the game, put it away after a successful 2-point conversion.

Fannin County 28, Athens Academy 13

Fannin County trailed 7-0 early in the first quarter when Corbin Davenport decided he’d have a day. The 5-11, 170-pound senior broke free on a 60-yard run and opened scoring on the next play with a short touchdown run. In the second quarter, he scored on a goal line run to push the lead to 14-7, where it would remain at the half. Athens Academy cut the lead to 14-13 at the end of the third quarter, but Fannin, and Davenport, responded. He scored on a 15-yard run to open the fourth quarter and again on a 3-yard run minutes later to put the game away.

Callaway 42, Washington 20

No. 5 ranked Callaway (8-3) won its eighth-straight game over fourth-seeded Washington Thursday night. The Cavs trailed 6-0 early after Washington intercepted a tipped pass and returned it for a touchdown. Zai Hart put Callaway minutes later with a short touchdown run and then back-to-back Deontaeus Brooks touchdown runs extended Callaway’s lead to 21-6 heading into the half. Tyren Buggs helped Callaway extend the lead with a touchdown run midway through the third quarter, but Washington answered on the ensuing drive to cut the deficit to 28-12. Callaway quarterback DeShun Coleman capped scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter.

In other 2A games – Jalon Kilgore scored from 24 and 42 yards out in the first half for Putnam County, which defeated Toombs County 30-6. The win sets up a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals matchup between the War Eagles and Fitzgerald following the Purple Hurricanes’ 41-0 rout of Central-Macon. … No. 9-ranked ELCA outscored Mt Paran 28-10 in the first half and 35-13 in the second to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the 15th year in a row. The Chargers will travel to top-seeded Fellowship Christian out of Region 8, which is advancing to the second round in its first season in Class 2A after defeating North Murray 49-28. … No. 6-ranked Pierce County led visiting Laney 21-0 after the opening frame before coasting to a 42-14 victory. The Bears will host four-seed Berrien following the Rebels’ 43-36 upset of top-seeded Spencer, which led 26-21 before Dontravious White put Berrien on top with a 30-yard pick-six. The Greenwave reclaimed the lead late in the third on a Gary Gaither touchdown pass, but Josiah Davis scored from 26 yards out for Berrien in the game’s final minutes. … No. 3-ranked Appling County will make a fourth-straight appearance in the second round following the Pirates’ 65-14 win over Washington County and will host Northeast-Macon next week. … Tenth-ranked Cook got its first round-one win since 2019 — a 77-35 victory over visiting ACE Charter — to set up a showdown with top-seeded Thomson. The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs shut out Tattnall County 26-0 to earn an eighth-straight appearance in the second round. … No. 2-ranked South Atlanta has advanced to the second round for the third year in a row following a 44-21 win over visiting Landmark Christian. The Hornets will host Union County, which won 28-14 on the road against host Model.

Class A Division I

Prince Avenue Christian 47, Mt. Vernon 14

Prince Avenue Christian briefly trailed 7-0 but dominated the rest of the way to beat visiting Mt. Vernon. The Wolverines took a 20-7 lead in the second quarter and ultimately scored the last 27 points of the game. They led 40-14 at halftime and by the final 47-14 margin going into the fourth. Aaron Philo threw five touchdown passes — three to Bailey Stockton and a pair of 50-yarders to Josh Britt.

Rabun County 45, Dade County 7

The No.3-ranked Rabun Wildcats will make their ninth-straight appearance in the second round following their 45-7 rout of fourth-seeded Dade County. The visiting Wolverines were first on the board before the Wildcats closed with 45 unanswered points, leading 17-7 at halftime and 24-7 heading into the final frame. Rabun County improved to 11-0 with the win and will host Social Circle next week.

Trion 45, Commerce 21

Trion’s Andy Ramirez scored on a field goal on the Bulldogs’ opening drives and the offense produced touchdowns on its next three possessions—including a 1-yard Toby Maddux touchdown run that built a 24-7 lead. Commerce fullback Tysean Wiggins’ second touchdown run made it a 24-14 game at the break. The Tigers used a fourth down conversion to punch in its first drive of the second half and cut the deficit to 24-21, but Trion answered with a 6-yard Maddox rushing score and a 54-yard Logan Eller touchdown run with less than nine minutes left in the fourth to push the lead to 38-21. Commerce turned it over on downs and then Maddux iced the game with his fourth touchdown.

Darlington 45, Athens Christian 0

Darlington broke open the game by outscoring visiting Athens Christian 31-0 in the second quarter. The Tigers led 7-0 after one quarter, 38-0 at halftime and by the final 45-0 margin by tacking on an insurance touchdown early in the third quarter. D’Marion Floyd had two rushing touchdowns, Bowden Owens added one, Jack Good threw a touchdown pass to Tommy Bethel and Eli Thompson returned a punt 77 yards to the end zone. Darlington also got a 35-yard field goal from Ryland Scott.

In other Division I games – Bleckley County pulled out an upset victory over No. 2 Brooks County 14-10 and will play Lamar County in the second round. … Lamar County beat Claxton 42-21 to advance to the second round. Swainsboro moved past Bacon County 47-0 and will play Screven County in the second round. Screven defeated Crawford County 35-28. … Social Circle will play Rabun County in the second round after beating Whitefield Academy 10-7. … Irwin County beat Jefferson County 42-7 and will face Heard County in the second round after Heard beat Bryan County 27-16. … Mount Pisgah will play Darlington after beating Jasper County 45-12. .. Dublin moved past Pelham 55-14 and will face Metter in the second round. … Metter defeated Temple 42-6 in the first round. … Elbert County defeated Pepperell 31-7 and will face top-ranked Prince Avenue Christian in the second round. … St. Francis will play Trion in the second round after beating Oglethorpe County 69-7.

Class A Division II

Wilcox County 35, Montgomery County 26

Wilcox County trailed 26-23 late in the third quarter, but closed out its seventh-straight victory with a 12-3 edge in the final frame. Senior Dayshawn Lawson surpassed 200 yards rushing in the game and had three rushing touchdowns—including both of the Patriots’ fourth quarter scores.

Bowdon 42, Aquinas 14

Jordan Beasley rushed for three touchdowns, Dylan Akins rushed for two and Robert McNeal rushed for one touchdown to lead Bowdon past Aquinas and into the second round. Bowdon led 7-0 after the first quarter and 21-7 at the half. Beasley scored on runs of 3, 2 and one yard, Akins scored on runs of 5 and 3 yards and McNeal scored on a 40-yard scamper. For Aquinas, Jack Rhodes scored on a 2-yard run and BuddyRow Garrer scored on an 89-yard kickoff return.

In other Division II games — No. 8 ranked Manchester cruised past visiting Hancock Central 40-14 and will square off with No. 1 ranked Bowdon in the Sweet 16 after Bowdon’s 42-14 win over Aquinas. No. 2 seed Telfair County earned its first playoff victory since 1993 over ECI and will take on the top-seeded Early County Bobcats—who are currently ranked No. 4 in the classification. The bottom left quadrant of the bracket contains Wilkinson County—whose 13-7 win over visiting Macon County marks the Warriors’ first playoff win since 2012. Wilkinson County will visit top-seed Lincoln County—who advanced with a bye. Dooly County scored a 22-21 road win over Jenkins County to set up its Sweet 16 trip to Charlton County after the No. 6 ranked Indians’ victory over Seminole County. … No. 2 ranked Clinch County scored a 38-15 win over Mitchell County to set up a trip to No. 7 ranked McIntosh County Academy in the second round after the Buccaneers’ 28-13 win over Wheeler County. Christian Heritage cruised past host Greene County 37-6 and will visit undefeated Johnson County. The bottom right quadrant of the bracket saw Lanier County advance past Miller County in a 14-13 thriller where they will meet with Wilcox County—who picked up its eighth-straight win in a 35-26 triumph over visiting Montgomery County. Washington-Wilkes advanced past the first round for the third-straight season in a 35-14 road win over Mt. Zion-Carroll and will face No. 5 Schley County after the Wildcats’ 51-0 win over Georgia Military.


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