Class AAAAAAA: Milton 14, Colquitt County 13
The Milton Eagles handed top-ranked Colquitt County its first loss of the season, and captured its first state championship in school history with a 14-13 victory.
Colquitt County’s Ryan Fitzgerald drilled a 30-yard field goal midway through the first quarter to put the Packers ahead 3-0. Milton quarterback and Georgia-Tech commit Jordan Yates answered with a game-changing 66-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cox with 3:48 left in the frame.
“It’s the culmination of something very very special, that everyone could see,” said Milton head coach Adam Clack of the program’s first state championship squad. “If you watched us all year long you saw that these kids had a unique belief in one another.”
Colquitt County senior Ty Leggett added a 10-yard touchdown before the half and the Packers led 10-7 at the break.
A scoreless third quarter set up a pivotal play in the opening seconds of the fourth. Milton faced a 4th down and 1 on the Colquitt 11, and converted with an 11-yard touchdown run to reclaim a 14-10 Eagles lead.
Ryan Fitzgerald booted a 24-yard field goal with 7:15 left to bring it within 14-13, but the Milton defense held strong to seal the dramatic upset.
Milton outgained Colquitt County 300-to-239 in the narrow contest and were 5-14 to 4-12 in third down efficiency, but 3-3 to 0-1 in fourth down calls.
Class AAAA: Blessed Trinity 23, Cartersville 9
Blessed Trinity (15-0) completed the first undefeated season in school history, and successfully defended its maiden title Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a 23-9 win over Cartersville (14-1).
Cartersville emerged from the first quarter in front—outgaining the Titans 73-13 in yardage—and putting a 37-yard Oscar Hernandez field goal on the board. Blessed Trinity’s offense stayed quiet until a 43-yard connection from quarterback Jake Smith to Ryan Davis gave the Titans a fresh set of downs at the Cartersville 20-yard line. Ohio State-commit Steele Chambers picked up 16 yards on the following snap, and an illegal formation penalty led to a 9-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Ryan Dupont with 10:10 left in the half.
The teams traded eight-straight scoreless possessions, and Blessed Trinity kneeled out the final ticks of the half leading 7-3. Cartersville forced a Blessed Trinity punt on the opening possession of the second half, and orchestrated a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive—capped by a 26-yard Hernandez field goal. The 7-6 margin held until 11:11 left in the fourth quarter—a high Cartersville snap sailed over punter Ricardo Torres’ head and out of the endzone for a safety.
Possession stayed with Blessed Trinity, and Smith found Davis for a 22-yard gain, and a 57-yard touchdown pass on the next play to grow the lead to 16-6. Davis came up with a huge defensive play, and forced a fumble on Cartersville’s next possession that was recovered by teammate Carson Harof. Smith capped a 23-yard, 9-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:42 left off the turnover. Hernandez added the Canes’ third field goal with 2:41 left for the game’s final points.
Cartersville’s Class of 2019 finishes with a four-year combined record of 55-2. The only other defeat was Blessed Trinity’s second-round upset (21-17) in last year’s playoffs. Blessed Trinity head coach Tim McFarlin added a third state title to his resume after previously leading Roswell to a state title in 2006. A perfect season was also a first for the veteran head coach.
“I never knew what it was like to go undefeated and win 15 games,” said McFarlin. “But if you were going to to it, I would think that you have to have special kids doing special things. We were banged up bad all year and they just played through it. It’s a pretty neat experience.”
Cartersville’s Marcus Gary racked up a game-high 175 rushing yards off 26 carries, but the Canes’ were forced to settle for field goals in all three of their red zone trips. Quarterback Tee Webb completed 12-of-26 attempts for 149 yards and two interceptions.
Blessed Trinity’s Chambers finished with 98 rushing yards off 22 carries and added five tackles and a tackle for loss on the defensive side. Smith was 10-of-18 passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns, and Davis finished with seven catches for 135 yards and a touchdown to go with his five tackles and forced fumble.
Class AA Heard County 27, Rockmart 6
Heard County captured its first-ever state football title after defeating Rockmart 27-6 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday. Heard County relied on two touchdowns each from star players Aaron Beasley and Alijah Huzzie in the rout.
“Look at those stands up there,” lauded head coach Tim Barron after the win. “They support us whether we are good or bad. They love the kids. They always put the kids first.”
The championship victory was a stark contrast to Heard County’s 33-0 loss to Rockmart on Sept. 7. The turnaround, according to Barron, was something special.
“We started out pretty rough,” admitted Barron. “Rockmart humbled us and we only played half a football game. The fact that the kids looked back on themselves and they, as players, turned their season around. For them to do that through that adversity and all that stuff and to come back and be where they are now, it’s just unreal.”
Heard County took the lead on Beasley’s 2-yard run with 3:20 left in the first quarter and, following the 2-point conversion, the lead was 8-0. Huzzie scored the next two touchdowns, both on goal line dives late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 20-0. Beasley added his insurance touchdown with 7:56 left in the game before Rockmart’s Dylan Bailey connected with Juke Boozer on a desperation heave with 4 minutes left.
“It means a lot,” Huzzie said. “We had our doubters and our haters and have been through a lot. We all stuck together and brought it in and fought through adversity and we won.”
Beasley finished with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Huzzie rushed for 33 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries and was 2 of 6 passing for 13 yards. Andrew Leak and Jai Wright each made six tackles. Micaiah Austin made 5.5 tackles and Huzzie made 4.5 tackles.
Rockmart’s Bailey was 9 of 20 passing for 114 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Kieron Roberts made 7.5 tackles to lead Rockmart. Kelan Pitts added 4.5 tackles and Paine Culver and Deacon Allen each made 4 tackles.
Class A-Private ELCA 44, Athens Academy 17
Eagle’s Landing Christian overcame its slow start with a dominant second half effort to run away with its fourth-consecutive state title.
“It feels just so good today,” said ELCA coach Jonathan Gess. “[We were] down 10-0 at halftime and for the team to come out in the second half and do what they did, this was just really special.”
By halftime, Athens Academy had constructed a 10-0 lead on the back of a 40-yard field goal by James Williams with 8:29 left in the first quarter. Four minutes later, Len Whitehead broke a 54-yard run to push the lead.
“It feels good to get the win,” said ELCA’s Justin Menard, who had two touchdown receptions in the game. “It’s just the work ethic that we put in over the summer that allowed this. This year, us losing to Pace Academy was humbling, and we just grinded harder to try to win another championship.”
ELCA responded by outscoring Athens Academy 44-7 in the second half to put the game away. The comeback was sparked by Menard’s 12-yard touchdown pass from Brayden Rush. Rush then connected with Justin Robinson minutes later on a 14-yard pass to push the lead to 13-10. Rush’s 50-yard pass to Menard extended the lead just before Athens Academy pulled back to within 3 points on a 7-yard run by Len Whitehead with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
From that point on, it was ELCA’s ballgame. The Chargers expanded the cushion in typical ELCA fashion with two touchdown runs by Keaton Mitchell (58 and 24-yards), a 35-yard run by Josh Rogers and a 25-yard field goal by Austin Reed.
Mitchell finished the game rushing for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Rogers rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Rush was 11 of 22 passing for 212 yards and three touchdowns.
Menard caught three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Kobi Mitchell made 7.5 tackles, Jelan Pearson made seven tackles.
Athens Academy’s Whitehead finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Palmer Bush was 12 of 23 passing for 88 yards.