Class AAA blog: Four top programs headed to state semifinals


So it's down to four.

Cedar Grove, Greater Atlanta Christian, Crisp County and Jenkins are the survivors after three rounds in the Class AAA football playoffs. GAC will travel to Cedar Grove, and Crisp will entertain Jenkins on Friday.

Here’s what went down in the quarterfinals:

-- Cedar Grove and GAC will replay the 2016 state championship game, when the Saints won 30-19. Cedar Grove was not challenged in its 36-3 quarterfinal victory against top-ranked Peach County, sending the Saints to its fifth consecutive semifinal game. The Saints defense had six sacks and had two defensive touchdowns in the victory. Isaiah Ratcliff’s 19 tackles, two sacks, six tackles for losses and one safety led the stingy Cedar Grove defense. Rashad Dubinion had 12 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.

-- GAC advanced past Hart County 17-16 in the quarterfinals and faces its tallest task of the season against Cedar Grove. GAC was trailing 16-10 late in the fourth quarter against Hart, when quarterback Jackson Hardy passed to senior Zac Mixon for the game-tying touchdown pass. Tyler Curland’s point-after attempt was good. GAC enjoyed a 10-0 lead early in the game after Curland's 46-yard field goal and a touchdown pass from Hardy to Tre Henry with 2:34 in the second quarter. Hart responded with a 34-yard field goal from Tucker Kim before the half, and Luke Lee tied the game on a 58-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Thomas early in the third quarter. Kim kicked a 28-yard field goal with 2:41 left in the third quarter to put Hart ahead 13-10, and his 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs a 16-10 lead before Hardy’s touchdown pass.

-- Crisp County will enjoy home-field advantage in the semifinals after a 22-20 victory against Jefferson. Crisp did all its scoring in the first half and managed to halt Jefferson's comeback bid in the second half. Crisp quarterback A.J. Lofton was 7-of-10 passing for 89 yards and a touchdown to Katorian Raines. Lofton rushed 16 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Marquise Palmer has 23 carries for 137 yards. Crisp County last advanced to the semifinals in 2016 before losing to Cedar Grove, the eventual champions, 55-0. Since 1957, when Crisp started playing football, the Cougars have been to the semifinals in 1981, 1995 and 2016. 

-- Jenkins got to the semis after moving past North Murray 41-14. Jenkins trailed 7-0 after the first quarter, but Patrick Blake’s 52-yard pass to Ronald Cooper set up a short touchdown run by Blake, the first of three on the night. Blake completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to Darius Bush to extend the lead to 13-7 early in the third quarter, then Jenkins scored on a 15-yard run a few plays later to take control. The Warriors added a 74-yard touchdown run by Damazzio Harris and a 52-yard fumble return by Joah Cash to put the game out of reach. Blake’s 18-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter was insurance.

Class AAA semifinal schedule

R7 #1 Greater Atlanta Christian at R5 #1 Cedar Grove

R3 #1 Jenkins at R1 #1 Crisp 

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