Class AAAAA blog: Third round produces two nail-biters, two romps

There was quite a disparity in the Class AAAAA quarterfinal games on Friday. There were two nail-biters that weren’t determined until the game’s final play and two lopsided affairs. And at the end of the night, the state’s No. 1 team had been eliminated and the lone unranked team had found its way into the Final Four.

Here’s how it shook down: 

Buford takes down No. 1 Carrollton, 24-21: Where does Buford come up with these guys? With leading rushers Eliljah Turner and Gabe Ervin out because of injuries, the Wolves turn to Victor Venn, who carried 34 times and gained 235 yards and scored two touchdowns. That offset the heroic effort of Carrollton's Mecose Todd, who ran 22 times for 186 times and three touchdowns.

Buford tied the game 21-21 on a 4-yard run by Venn early in the fourth quarter and the two teams slugged out until the end. The Wolves got the ball with seven minutes left and never gave Carrollton another crack. The key play came on fourth-and-6 when coach Bryant Appling dialed up a fake punt and Hayden Olsen threw a 7-yard pass to Justice Johnson for a first own.

Buford converted two other third downs, the last coming on a 23-yard run by Venn that placed the ball at the Carrollton 11. The Wolves call timeout with two seconds left and Olsen – the Mad Passer – calmly kicked a 28-yard field goal to win the game as time expired.

“Just the toughness and the grit and the hard work that we’ve been filling these guys with since January,” first-year Buford head coach Bryant Appling told the Gwinnett Daily Post afterwards. “They knew it was always the next man up mentality. If somebody gets hurt, the next guy’s getting just as many reps in practice and just as many reps during the season. If the situation comes up, they can step up and play big.”

Starr's Mill stuns Dutchtown in OT: The unranked Panthers opted to go for the win rather than play another overtime period and Kalen Sims crashed through with the two-point run. The dramatic play gave Starr's Mill a 25-24 win over the No. 8-ranked Bulldogs.

Starr’s Mill led 10-0 on a run by Sims and a field goal from Christian Castillo, but Dutchtown answered on an 8-yard pass from Arendez Fedd to Taurean Johnson and a 31-yard run by Fedd. Starr’s Mill regained the lead 17-14 on Sims’ second touchdown, a 1-yard run, but Dutchtown tied the game at the final horn when Ki’Mari Underwood kicked a 20-yard field goal to force overtime.

Nate McCollum scored for Dutchtown, but Starr’s Mill answered when Sims scored from the 4. Sims then ran for the game-winning two-pointers and put the Panthers in the semifinals for the first time since 2010.

Warner Robins ends Clarke's season: The No. 2-ranked Demons overpowered unranked Clarke Central 49-14 in almost all phases of the game to advance to the semifinal round. Warner Robins (12-1) scored on an option pass from Jatavious Bryant to Marcayll Jones, a 45-yard run by Jalen Addie, a 60-yard pass from Addie to Deuce Petty, a 41-yard run by Jahlen Rutherford, a 30-yard run from James Smith and a 7-yard pick-six from Totino Smith.

Jones County rides big third quarter: Hunter Costlow threw three touchdown passes and caught another as Jones County scored 35 unanswered points in the third quarter to overcome a 14-7 halftime deficit and rout Griffin 49-14.

The No. 7 Greyhounds (12-1) got the party started when Maleek Wooten returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown and took the lead the Jitavius Whipple intercepted a pass to set up a touchdown pass from Hunter Costlow to Jontavius Robertson.

Robertson then found Costlow for a touchdown pass on a little razzle dazzle and Costlow connected with Britton Jones for a 35-14 lead. Costlow and Robertson connected again and Dominic Bass finished the scoring for Jones with a pick-six. Robertson also ran for a touchdown in the first half.