Class AAA blog: Second round sets up big matchups in the state quarterfinals

What did we learn as Class AAA moved its way through the second round of the playoffs? Simple. We learned that there is a big week waiting for us in the quarterfinals.

At the top of the class, Peach County defeated Calhoun 35-0, and Cedar Grove beat Benedictine 49-13 and now the quarterfinal game which pretty much was predicted at the beginning of the season will happen Friday when Peach travels to Ellenwood to face the Saints in a rematch of the 2018 title game that Cedar Grove won.

But Peach and Cedar Grove were not the only games:

-- Crisp County held North Hall scoreless in the first three quarters to earn its first quarterfinal berth since 2016, when the Cougars lost to Cedar Grove in the semifinals. Crisp quarterback A.J. Lofton was 6-of-9 passing for 105 yards and a touchdown Friday. He had 12 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. Marquise Palmer carried the ball nine times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Semaj Chatfield had six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown. Crisp will host Jefferson in the quarterfinals.

-- Jefferson ran past Appling County 28-7 to earn its quarterfinal berth, the first since 2017. Jefferson won the 2012 AA championship and since has been eliminated in the quarterfinals three times and the semifinals, in 2016. Against Appling, the Dragons were led by senior quarterback Colby Clark’s four-touchdown performance. Clark had 21 carries for 126 yards and was 2-for-3 passing for 18 yards. He scored on runs of 33, 3, 2 and 1 yards.

-- Hart County was the only team to prove me wrong in my second-round predictions. The Bulldogs, which fell out of the rankings in the regular season, are for real. At least, for now. Hart defeated No. 3 Pierce County 32-29 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014. Hart faces a tall task against Greater Atlanta Christian on the road in the quarterfinals. 

-- GAC defeated Cook 38-0 to earn its quarterfinal berth. Jackson Hardy passed to Zac Mixon for a 58-yard touchdown on the third play of the game, and GAC never looked back. GAC led 14-0 after the first quarter and 31-0 at halftime.

-- Jenkins is back in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season after defeating Dawson County 42-9. The Warriors led 12-0 after the first quarter and 24-6 at the half. Patrick Blake passed to Kirhon Jones (67 yards), Jameal Smith (18 yards), Damozzion Harris (27 yards) and Darius Bush (17 yards) for touchdowns. Harris added rushing touchdowns of 88 and 1 yards. Daylan Dotson returned a fumble 53 yards for a touchdown.

-- North Murray’s historic season continues. The Mountaineers advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history after beating Jackson 24-14. It cme after the team's first-ever 6-AAA region title. North Murray led 7-0 and 14-7 entering the fourth quarter. Ladd McConkey’s touchdown pass to Dante Edwards Tidwell put the Mountaineers ahead 24-7 with 4:34 left in the game, and North Murray put away the game with Landon Burrell’s late interception.

Quarterfinals schedule

R4 #1 Peach County at R5 #1 Cedar Grove

R8 #2 Hart County at R7 #1 Greater Atlanta Christian

R8 #1 Jefferson at R1 #1 Crisp

R6 #1 North Murray at R3 #1 Jenkins

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