The sixth time was the charm for the top-ranked Prince Avenue Christian Wolverines, who avenged their five previous losses against No. 2 ranked Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy — including last year’s 62-57 second-round heartbreaker — with a stunning 38-0 rout of the five-time defending state champion Chargers.
The latest showdown between Region 2 No. 1 ELCA and Region 8 No. 1 Prince Avenue began very differently than their 2019 matchup that saw a combined 1295 yards of offense, with the Chargers and Wolverines trading punts through a scoreless opening frame. ELCA appeared to halt Prince Avenue’s drive early in the second with an impressive goal-line stand, but the officiating crew gave the late signal for the Wolverines touchdown after confirming senior center Tanner Wells had fallen on the fumbled snap in the end zone. Sophomore Bailey Stockton intercepted Chargers quarterback Philip Massengale on the following drive, and from there, Prince Avenue’s star quarterback Brock Vandagriff took over. His keeper put the Wolverines ahead 14-0, and after Davis Ridings added another interception for the Prince Avenue defense, he again led his offense deep into Chargers territory. The Wolverines initially settled for a field goal, but a roughing-the-kicker call put the ball back in Vandagriff’s hands, who found Logan Johnson for the 8-yard touchdown completion and a 21-0 advantage before the break.
The five-star QB (and UGA-commit) — who tallied a career-high 525 yards and 6 touchdowns in last year’s loss — ran it in again early in the third, and Bryson Franklin’s 19-yard field goal broke the threshold for a running clock in the fourth. After a turnover on downs from the Chargers, Vandagriff found senior Zac Dyer for 47 yards to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by senior Landon Owens with 6:17 remaining for the final points of the night.
The Wolverines take another step toward their first-ever state title in program history with the win, and will make their sixth semifinals appearance in the past seven seasons next week against Wesleyan.
Region 1 No. 2 Lowndes secured its third-straight semifinals appearance with a gritty, hard-fought road win over Region 5 No. 1 Milton. IJ Mitchell scored the first of his two touchdowns from 27 yards out, and the opening frame ended with Milton at the Lowndes 2-yard line after a big first-down conversion run from Jordan McDonald — who scored off a direct snap on the first play of the second quarter. Ramecia Burgman blocked Jason Aussin’s field goal on Milton’s next possession and returned it into Eagles territory, but Bryce Thornton’s interception of Jacurri Brown kept the score knotted late in the half. Brown — who was slow to get up after being sacked before the break — took the field in the third and led a Vikings drive that ended in Preston Hart’s 27-yard field goal to reclaim the lead. Lowndes took over at midfield early in the fourth after Milton quarterback Devin Farrell’s fourth-down pass was broken up by TJ Quinn, and capitalized with Justin Lee’s 6-yard run with 7:41 remaining.
After Mitchell appeared to ice the game with his second score that put Lowndes ahead 23-7, Cam Cainion’s return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff gave Milton some life. The Eagles were unsuccessful on the onside kick attempt, however, and Jalon Baker sealed the win with an end-zone interception on Milton’s final possession.
Grayson 33, West Forsyth 0
Jake Garcia threw two touchdown passes as host Grayson shut out West Forsyth in a game between No. 1 seeds. Garcia threw a 13-yard touchdown to Jamal Haynes to give the Rams a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and threw a 4-yard touchdown to Jaden Smith to make it a 26-0 Rams lead in the third. Sean Downer rushed for a 10-yard touchdown later in the frame, and Joseph Taylor Jr. capped the scoring for the Rams with an 18-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Derrell Farrar returned an interception 52 yards for a score in the second quarter to give Grayson a 13-0 halftime lead. Farrar also recovered a fumble.
Buford 44, Langston Hughes 15
No. 1 seed Buford defeated visiting No. 2 seed Langston Hughes 44-15, holding the Panthers scoreless until the third quarter. Buford got two touchdown runs from Gabe Ervin Jr., a 2-yard score in the first quarter for the first points of the game and a 5-yard rush in the second quarter to put the Wolves up 20-0. Ervin finished with 48 yards rushing on eight carries. Victor Venn led Buford with 149 yards rushing on 10 carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run in the first possession of the second half to put the Wolves ahead 30-0. C.J. Clinkscales (11 yards) and Eli Parks (3 yards) each scored in the third quarter as well for the Wolves. Buford quarterback Ashton Daniels was 2-of-2 passing for 61 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown completion to Tommy Beuglas in the second quarter, and Alex Mata made a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter to give Buford a 23-0 halftime lead. Buford preserved the first-half shutout by stopping Langston Hughes on four straight plays from the Wolves 1-yard line late in the second quarter and holding the Panthers to just 6 yards rushing. Buford will host No. 2 seed Valdosta in the semifinals.
Valdosta 36, Carrollton 15
No. 1 seed Carrollton took a 15-14 lead in the third quarter after a touchdown pass from James McCauley to Grant Briscoe, but No. 2 seed Valdosta dominated from there with 22 straight points to get the road win. Valdosta led 14-0 in the second quarter and 14-9 at halftime. For the Wildcats’ first touchdown, Kaleb Robinson rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to finish a 12-play, 98-yard drive with under a minute to play in the first quarter. Valdosta quarterback Amari Jones rushed for a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter after the Wildcats intercepted a tipped Carrollton screen pass deep in Trojans territory and returned it to the 1-yard line. After Valdosta fell behind 15-14, Jones answered with a 5-yard touchdown run and caught the ensuing two-point pass from a Wildcats wide receiver after a botched snap, giving the Wildcats a 22-15 lead at the 5:37 mark of the third quarter. Robinson scored his second touchdown on a 2-yard rush at the 1:31 mark of the third quarter to give Valdosta a 29-15 lead, and the Wildcats capped the scoring with an 86-yard touchdown rush from Terrell Denson on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Westlake 27, Allatoona 24
No. 3 Westlake took a 27-10 lead into the fourth quarter and held off a Bucaneers rally to advance to semifinals for the second time in school history. Allatoona’s Elan Hall threw a touchdown to Bennett Christian with 8:48 left to cut the deficit to 27-17. The Buccaneers successfully recovered an onside kick and made it a one-possession game with a Dequori Garrett rushing score before Westlake was able to close out the victory.
Coffee 27, Calhoun 17
Coffee completed a 49-yard field goal on the opening Trojans drive and extended its lead with Anthony McQueen’s scoop-and-score after Calhoun quarterback Christian Lewis was sacked and fumbled the ball. Lewis responded with a fourth-down 32-yard touchdown pass to William Seamons at the end of the opening frame, and a second-quarter field goal from each team left Coffee up 13-10 at the half. Lewis connected with Cole Speer on a go-ahead touchdown in the middle of the fourth, but the Trojans retaliated with a 17-yard touchdown run by Trejan Landers to retake the lead. Maurice sealed the Coffee victory with a 35-yard touchdown to send the Trojans to the semifinals, where they’ll face off against Cartersville.
Jones County 28, Eastside 7
Andrew Carner rushed for three touchdowns and John Alan Richter threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Maleek Wooten to lead host Jones County past Eastside. The Greyhounds advance to their second-straight semifinal with the victory.
Cartersville 34, Ware County 31
Quante’ Jennings ran in three Cartersville touchdowns, including a game-winning 4-yard score with 9:29 left to lift the No. 4 ranked Purple Hurricanes past the host Gators. Ware County’s Thomas Castellanos put the Gators up 14-0 with back-to-back touchdowns runs in the first quarter before Jennings ran in a 16-yard touchdown and quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson scored on an 8-yard carry to even it up 14-14. Ware County reclaimed the lead on a 29-yard Henry Bates field goal, and Del Rio-Wilson connected with Collin Fletcher for a 46-yard touchdown pass to give Cartersville a 20-17 lead. Castellanos answered with a 30-yard touchdown pass to put Ware County back up 24-20. Jennings’ second touchdown put Cartersville up 27-24 and then Castellanos returned to the end zone to put Ware County up 31-27 heading into the final frame.
Jefferson 28, Carver-Columbus 22
No. 2 ranked Jefferson outlasted the fourth-quarter heroics of Carver-Columbus quarterback Devin Riles to come away with a 28-22 victory in the battle between two unbeatens. Junior Malaki Starks finished with three touchdowns, the first of which was set up by Jefferson’s recovery of a fumble on Carver’s opening drive. Paxton Corkery extended the Dragons lead to 14-0 with a short run in the second before Jaiden Credle provided Carver’s first points of the night — and the first points allowed by the Jefferson defense since Nov. 5. Starks took a 7-yard trip to the end zone on 4th-and-2 late in the third for a 21-6 advantage, but Riles connected with William Bonilla for both a 19-yard touchdown completion and the successful two-point conversion early in the final frame. After Starks’ final touchdown of the night gave the Dragons some breathing room, Riles again closed the gap with a 10-yarder to Bonilla and two-point completion to Credle with 0:25 to play. The Dragons recovered the onside kick, however, to seal the win and set up a showdown with Benedictine in next week’s semifinals.
Marist 36, Perry 7
Ian Otten scored touchdowns in the first and third quarters for top seed Marist in its road win over fellow No. 1 seed Perry. The War Eagles led 12-0 at the end of the first quarter after a Perry safety on a punt snap that went into the end zone, Otten’s rushing touchdown (set up by Charlie Fleming’s interception) and a Dawson Jones field goal. Jones made another field goal as time expired in the first half to give Marist a 15-7 halftime lead, and the War Eagles put the game away with third-quarter touchdown runs from Otten and Lincoln Parker and a fourth-quarter rushing score from quarterback Champ Davis with 9:11 remaining.
Benedictine 48, Riverdale 13
A pair of field goals from Nick Dillon (37, 23 yards) and Leshon Brooks’ 5-yard rushing score gave the Cadets a 13-0 lead late in the second, and Trent Broadnax returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown to give Benedictine a 20-0 advantage at the break. The Cadets extended their lead with second-half touchdown runs from Holden Geriner and Brooks before Riverdale finally found the end zone in the fourth, and Geriner’s 37-yard scoring strike to Broadnax and a 45-yard pick-six from Justin Thomas sealed the win for Benedictine.
Bainbridge 21, Cedartown 10
No. 7 ranked Cedartown opened up a 10-0 lead before Bainbridge poured on 21 unanswered points to close out the road victory.
Oconee County 31, Peach County 13
Oconee County turned a close game into a near blowout with stifling defense in the second half of its home matchup with No.3 Peach County, placing the Class 4A state runner-up and No. 2-ranked Warriors just two wins away from glory in a new class. Oconee led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter on a field goal and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Wright to Justin Coleman. Peach managed a pair of field goals after Oconee turnovers and trailed 10-6 at the break. The Trojans, who lost to Cedar Grove in the state title game two years ago, took a 13-10 lead after a Chris McMillan touchdown with 6:30 left in the third quarter, but Oconee scored on a 39-yard touchdown run by CJ Jones to regain control. Peach would not score again. After a Liam Lewis interception, Oconee County scored on a 26-yard pass from Wright to Coleman with 2:14 left in the third quarter. Whit Weeks intercepted a pass with five minutes left, and Wright passed to Johnson for a 35-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive. Oconee will face Greater Atlanta Christian in the semifinals.
Crisp County 16, Cedar Grove 13
Crisp County avenged last year’s 21-14 loss in the state championship game with an emphatic victory at the Cougar Den in Cordele. After a time-eating drive in the third quarter, the Cougars took a 16-7 lead with a 1-yard run by 6-foot-1, 235-lb two-time all-state linebacker Christopher ‘Pooh’ Paul Jr. Cedar Grove scored on a touchdown by quarterback Austin Smith with 8:40 left in the game, but the Saints could manage no more offensive production. Early in the game, Crisp County senior Cortez Thomas scored on an interception return but the extra point sailed wide and the Cougars led 6-0 entering the second quarter. Cedar Grove scored with 7:57 left before halftime and led 7-6, but Crisp responded with a field goal to retake the lead just before the half. Crisp will travel to Pierce County for its semifinal game.
Pierce County 51, Carver-Atlanta 18
Pierce quarterback Jermaine Brewton rushed for four touchdowns and passed for one to lead the Bears to the semifinals for the second time in three seasons — and the first time under head coach Ryan Herring. Brewton’s touchdown pass — a 15-yarder to Maleek Chandel — put Pierce up 30-6 just before halftime, and the Bears got touchdown runs from DJ Bell (14 yards) and LJ Newton Jr (56 yards) to put the game out of reach. Carver scored on three touchdown runs. Brewton was 11-of-14 passing for 142 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 46 yards on 13 carries with four touchdowns.
GAC 31, Appling County 13
Greater Atlanta Christian is back in the semifinals for the second consecutive season and seventh time in coach Tim Hardy’s career at GAC. The Spartans led 17-7 at the half against Appling after a 4-yard touchdown run by Deymon Fleming Jr and a 6-yard touchdown pass from Fleming to Brooks Miller. GAC pushed the lead to 24-13 at the end of the third quarter and scored the final touchdown with 8:41 left to put the game out of reach. GAC has never won a state title but was the runner-up in 2014 and 2016. Oconee County stands between GAC and its third-ever title appearance.
Jefferson County 33, Bremen 10
No. 5 ranked Jefferson County outscored Bremen 14-0 in the second half to advance to the program’s second semifinal and first since 2015.
Rabun County 27, Bleckley County 24 OT
No. 4 seeded Bleckley County settled for a field goal in overtime before Rabun County quarterback Gunnar Stocktown rushed in a game-clinching 1-yard touchdown.
Callaway 34, Thomasville 21
Back-to-back Thomasville touchdowns left the third-round matchup between the No. 4 ranked Bulldogs and No. 9 ranked Callaway tied at the break, but the Cavaliers offense capitalized on key fourth-quarter plays by the defense to seize control and secure Callaway’s fourth semifinals appearance in the past five years. The Cavaliers tallied three interceptions on the night, including one by Jalin Shephard in the opening frame that set up his own 40-yard touchdown reception and put Callaway on the board. Charlie Dixon found the end zone for the first time later in the frame before Thomasville quarterback Ronnie Baker knotted the game with a 25-yard scoring strike to Jayveioun Cody early in the second and a touchdown run near the end of the half. Dixon provided the lone third-quarter points on a 6-yard run, then followed Osiris Rivas’ interception with a 98-yard rushing score with 5:46 to play. Thomasville added a late touchdown, but not before Ladarrious Williams provided the back-breaker with a pick-six that gave Callaway a 34-14 advantage. The Cavaliers will face Rabun County following the Wildcats’ 27-24 win over Bleckley County.
Fitzgerald 48, Fannin County 14
No. 1 ranked Fitzgerald dished host Fannin County its first loss of the season and improved to 12-0. Chance Gamble and Mario Clark ran in Canes touchdowns to put Fitzgerald up 14-0. Laphabion Boone got the Rebels on the board with rushing touchdowns, but Chance Gamble ran in a 60-yard score and Chance Green found Jakorrian Paulk for a 50-yard touchdown to put Fitzgerald up 28-7 at the half. Fannin County opened the second half with an 80-yard touchdown pass from Luke Holloway to Cohutta Hyde, but Clark returned to the end zone three more times to cap his four-touchdown performance and give Fitzgerald the 48-14 win.
Metter 28, Warren County 6
No. 1 ranked Metter held a 14-6 lead at the break following touchdown runs by Taj Holbs and freshman Josh Kelly before outscoring the Screaming Devils 14-0 after the break. Metter sustained its lead in the first half, despite losing two of its three fumbles.
Clinch County 27, Lincoln County 7
No. 8 ranked Clinch County outscored host Lincoln County 20-0 in the second half to return to the semifinals for the sixth-straight season.
Irwin County 25, Commerce 21
Defending state champion Irwin County built a 25-14 halftime lead and held off host Commerce—despite its scoreless second half. Cody Soliday gave the Indians a 7-0 lead with an 80-yard touchdown pass from Cody Soliday to Gabe Benyard on the first play from scrimmage. Kam Ward increased the lead to 13-0 with a rushing touchdown before Commerce got on the board with a Sammy Brown touchdown run. Brown — who finished with 171 rushing yards in the first half — returned to the end zone on a 77-yard carry with 2:15 left before the break.
Brooks County 47, Washington-Wilkes 7
No. 3 ranked Brooks County opened up a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and took a 33-7 edge into the half. The Trojans pushed the lead to 40-7 heading into a running-clock final frame.
Wesleyan 21, Savannah Christian 17
Savannah Christian was first on the board with a 42-yard field goal in the first, but Wesleyan took the lead in the middle of the second with a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ryan Rose to senior Wyatt Hodges and extended its advantage with a 15-yard touchdown scamper by Griffin Caldwell as the first half came to an end. Back-to-back Raiders touchdowns put Savannah Christian up 17-14 before the Wolves got the go-ahead score when Rose connected with Andrew Van Wie with 1:40 left in the game. Wesleyan advances to the semifinals, where the Wolves will be matched up against Prince Avenue Christian.
Calvary Day 26, George Walton Academy 14
George Walton’s Jake Whitten put the Bulldogs on the board less than a minute into their matchup with Calvary Day with a 10-yard touchdown run, but Greg Daniel’s first-quarter rushing score and second-quarter touchdowns by freshman quarterback Jake Merklinger on a pass to Brogan Korta and a QB sneak gave Calvary Day a 19-7 lead at the half. After a scoreless third, George Walton scored its second touchdown of the game off a muffed punt before a 64-yard touchdown pass from Merklinger to Bryant Brantley put Calvary Day ahead for good, giving the Cavs their first semifinals appearance since 2014.
Trinity Christian 41, Fellowship Christian 27
Tyson Wall rushed for three touchdowns for host Trinity Christian in its win in a matchup of top seeds. Wall rushed for an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter and scored twice in the third quarter from 8 and 25 yards out. Wall’s third touchdown put Trinity Christian ahead 41-13 at the 2:37 mark of the third quarter before Fellowship Christian scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Trinity Christian quarterback David Dallas’s three touchdown passes all came in the first half; he found Danny Baird (8 yards) and Javan Harrison (40 yards) in the first quarter and connected with his brother Josh Dallas in the second for an 80-yard touchdown to put the Lions ahead 28-7.