Class AAAAA blog: What we learned ... Union Grove has breakthrough win

Union Grove finally got the breakthrough it has been looking for this season. After coming close against state-ranked Jones County and Dutchtown over the two previous games, coach Chad Frazier’s team finished the drill with a 25-20 win over No. 6-ranked Stockbridge, setting off a wild postgame celebration.

There was plenty of reason for Union Grove to be happy. It broke a six-game losing streak to Stockbridge, a span in which none of the margins were closer than 34 points, and snapped a 25-game losing streak against ranked opponents.

“It was an amazing feeling,” coach Chad Frazier said. “It’s a program-changing win, hopefully. The kids were excited, the parents, the administration, the coaches … everybody. And the student section went crazy.”

Click here to see the final play of the game.

Union Grove had shown signs this might happen. It lost 28-21 to No. 3 Jones County, turning the ball over on downs while driving at the end of the game. It lost 27-6 to No. 4 Dutchdown, while playing without quarterback Michael Reese.

“The kids really believed they could be competitive with these guys and it showed,” Frazier said.

Union Grove trailed 12-7 at the half, but dominated the second half. The Wolverines scored on all three of their second-half possessions, including a nine-minute drive to open the third quarter.

Frazier gave great credit to Reese for directing the win. The senior does a nice job running the wing-T attack and made some good throws.

“And he kept everybody calm when they were going hysterical because we were about to score and take the lead,” Frazier said.

On defense, linebacker Keyon Smothers was a tackling machine.

The win leaves Union Grove in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012. A year ago, the Wolverines came close, missing when they lost to Locust Grove, which nabbed the final postseason spot.

Bainbridge loses second straight: The No. 8-ranked Bearcats (5-2) dropped a 16-13 decision to Veterans (6-1) in the Region 1 opener.  Veterans got three field goals from Daniel Gibbs. Bainbridge scored on a 75-yard fumble recovery by Zion Bouie and a 4-yard run by Rashad Broadnax. The Bearcats drove to the Veterans 13 in the final minute but ran out of time.

Jones County outslugs Dutchtown: No. 3 Jones County (7-0) came back from a 14-0 deficit to beat No. 4 Dutchtown 27-22. Hunter Coslow threw four touchdowns, three to Maleek Wooten and the game-winning 20-yarder to Jontavis Robertson with 6:40 left in the game. Dutchtown (6-1) got a pair of touchdown passes from Arendez Fedd and a touchdown run from NC State commit Nate McCollum.

Second straight shutout for No. 7 Rome: Ahijah Blackwell scored three touchdowns and E.J. Burkes ran for two more as Rome (5-2) crushed East Paulding 45-0. Tim Jones had a pick-six for the Wolves, who have not allowed a point over the last two games.

No. 9 Kell puts away Villa Rica: Freshman David Mbadinga ran for two touchdowns and quarterback Corbin LaFrance ran for a score and threw two touchdowns to Jamal Hill. Kell (5-1) also got a 65-yard fumble return from Vincent Dinkins.

Buford too much for Cedar Shoals: No. 1-ranked Buford (7-0) got a pair of touchdowns from Elijah Turner and a long 77-yard pass from Jarvis Evans to Jake Pope in whipping Cedar Shoals 31-13.

Morris passes No. 2 Carrollton to win: Myles "MJ" Morris completed 8 of 9 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns to pace Carrollton to a 47-0 win over Woodland-Cartersville. Carrollton also got touchdown runs from Mecose Todd, Terrell Carmichael and Steve Slappey.

Wayne County wins league opener: The No. 10-ranked Yellow Jackets (5-1) beat Statesboro 21-7 in the Region 2 opener for both teams. The win sets up a showdown next week with South Effingham

Warner Robins overcomes slow start: The No. 5 Demons (6-1) opened their Region 1 schedule with a 37-22 win over Harris County. Harris County led 14-13 at the half, but could not hold off Warner Robins in the second half. James Smith and Ahmad Walker each ran for two touchdowns and Jalen Addie added another for Warner Robins. Demarcus Robinson blocked a punt and intercepted a pass for the Demons.