Class AAAAA blog: What we learned ... Griffin, Bainbridge fall

Connor Marke had never tried a field goal in his life until he was called upon to do so on Friday night. He didn’t flinch, drilling a 50-yard that was straight and true, to give Starr’s Mill a 38-35 win over No. 10 Griffin.

Starr’s Mill lost all-state kicker Michael Lantz to graduation -- he’s kicking for the University of Minnesota – and during the off-season coach Chad Phillips approached the soccer coach to find a replacement. Two prospects answered the call and both are playing roles: Christian Castillo is the short kicker and Marke is the long kicker.

Marke missed four weeks because of an injury and returned this week. Just in time to be the hero.

“We knew we had to get it to the 30-yard line and we bogged down and called timeout with seven seconds left,” Phillips said. “He went in and kicked it like he’d been doing it for years. He wasn’t nervous. All he knows is kick it through the uprights.”

Click here to watch a video of the winning kick. 

The win improves Starr’s Mill’s record to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in Region 3. Griffin falls to 5-1, 1-1 in the league. 

In other developments on Friday night: 

Defending state champion Bainbridge falls: The No. 3-ranked Bearcats saw their 12-game winning streak end with a 24-6 loss at Tift County. Quarterback Quayde Hawkins completed 7 of 28 passes for 91 yards and Bainbridge managed only 98 total yards. Tift County won by controlling the ball on the ground and threw only one pass during the game. 

No problems for No. 1 Buford: The Wolves improved to 6-0 with a 56-7 win over Johnson of Gainesville. Elijah Turner and Victor Venn each had two touchdown runs and Justice Johnson caught a 43-yard TD pass from Jarvis Evans Jr., who was 8-for-8 for 213 yards. The Wolves also got touchdowns from Xalan Taylor, Gabe Ervin and Javen Sadler, as well as a safety. Johnson’s Xzavior Ramsey returned a kickoff 100 yards to ruin the shutout. 

Big fourth quarter saves No. 7 Stockbridge: The Tigers (6-0) defeated Ola 27-22 thanks to a big effort in the fourth quarter. Javan McDonald threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to John Prince with 1:47 left to take the lead and sealed it when Jaylen Jackson came up with an interception. McDonald threw four touchdown passes, added a 56-yarder to Jalen Taylor, a 31-yarder to Jackson and a 15-yarder to Markell Ramsey. Ola (4-2) got a 21-yard run from Karl Kennedy, a 1-yard run from Hunter Kautz and three Chase Folser field goals.

Carrollton, Morris too much for Cass: No. 2 Carrollton led 44-0 at halftime and coasted to a 50-14 win over Cass. Myles Morris completed 9 of 14 passes for 259 yards and five touchdown passes and ran for another score. Terrell Carmicheal caught three passes, two for touchdowns, and Grant Briscoe, Brandon Marenco and Melvin Edwards also had touchdown receptions. Mecose Todd ran for 67 yards and one touchdown. 

Mbadinga’s four TDs pace Kell: Freshman David Mbadinga rushed for 238 yards and scored four touchdowns as the No. 10 Longhorns whipped Paulding County 41-16. Corbin LaFrance complete 9 of 17 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. 

Warner Robins dispatches Houston County: The Demons prevailed against their cross-country rival, winning 29-14. The Demons scored 16 unanswered points in the third quarter to take control. Jalen Addie ran for a touchdown and threw for another to lead Warner Robins. 

No. 8 Rome rolls again: The Wolves got 103 yards and three touchdowns from E.J. Burks and Ahijah Blackwell ran for 104 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown in a 41-0 win over Woodland of Cartersville. 

Clarke Central tops Cedar Shoals: O’Brien Barnett scored three touchdowns and Jairus Mack scored on a 60-yard reception from Isaac Ward as Clarke Central (4-2) ripped rival Cedar Shoals 34-3 to regain the Classic City Championship. The Gladiators put themselves in position to challenge No. 1 Buford for the Region 8 championship when they meet on the final weekend of the season in Athens. 

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