Class A Blog: Aquinas cruises without Garnett; Mt. Paran keeps rolling; Watch out for ELCA; Charlton County wins a thriller; Calhoun County gets revenge

Before we get to what went down Friday night, time for an editorial alert:  Tuesday blog posts will be devoted to basketball starting Nov. 25. The Thursday and Saturday posts will cover the football playoffs, through championship weekend, Dec. 12-13. Then the blog will shift to basketball full time on Dec. 16.

But back to football and the playoffs.

Private

No. 1 Calvary Day 26, No. 16 Christian Heritage 7.  Senior WR/DB Jeremiah Mercer scored on a 50-yard run as time expired in the first half to give Calvary Day a 14-0 lead and the Cavaliers never looked back.  Mercer added two interceptions and had an 85-yard punt returned called back, according to the Savannah Morning News. Cavalier RB/LB Robert Heyward had 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns as Calvary Day improved to 11-0, the longest winning streak in school history.  Christian Heritage of Dalton, which hung tough for most of the night, finished its season at 5-6.

No. 9 Mt. Pisgah Christian 38, No. 8 Landmark Christian 14. Mt. Pisgah's defense stepped up and the Patriots used their superior speed and athleticism to move into the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. Landmark (8-3) cut the deficit to 17-14 before Mt. Pisgah (8-3) scored 21 unanswered points to put the game away. QB Aaron Winchester threw four touchdown passes – two to Ben Miller and one each to Jacob Greene and Connor Richey – and ran for another.

No. 5 Eagle's Landing Christian Academy 34, No. 12 Athens Christian 0.  ELCA served notice that it must be included in any discussion about championship contenders.  Quarterback D.J. Hammond rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Chargers past Athens Christian. Hammond scored on runs of 1, 2, and 14 yards. ELCA (5-6) also got a touchdown from Trevor Gear on a 25-yard run. Kicker Alex Usry completed all four extra point attempts and also added two field goals of 31 and 39 yards. The Chargers had 398 yards of total offense, 388 yards rushing.

No. 4 Prince Avenue Christian  55, No. 13 First Presbyterian Day 30.  The Wolverines trailed 16-14 in the second quarter, but a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Matthew Hill ignited a scoring barrage that helped Prince Avenue cruise to victory.  Hill also returned a blocked punt 13 yards for another touchdown and added a 9-yard touchdown run.  Johan Doster ran for over 100 yards and two scores and Jordan Ginnel scored twice for the Wolverines as well.

No. 3 Mt. Paran Christian 45, No. 14 Stratford Academy 14. For the ninth time this season, Mt. Paran (11-0) reached the 40-point mark. Emoni Williams led the way with three touchdowns – runs of 38 and 32, and a 31-yard reception.

No. 6 Savannah Christian 49 , No. 11. Pacelli  26.  The Raiders raced out to a 21-0 lead after one quarter and tacked on three more unanswered touchdowns before halftime en route to pummeling the Vikings.  Senior QB Joshua Chamblee led the charge with three touchdown runs. His only completion went for a 76-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Demetris Robertson, according to the Savannah Morning News.

No. 7 Tattnall Square Academy 23, No. 10 Pinecrest Academy 0.  Tattnall Square had been a fixture in the state playoffs as one of the dominant programs in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.  The Trojans (10-1) looked like post season regulars in their first Georgia High School Association playoff win.  J.J. Battle rushed five times for 102 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and QB Ian Herndon (8-of-10 passing, 104 yards) accounted for two scores in the fourth quarter, throwing a 46-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Barron and rushing for a 4-yard touchdown. Jonathan Ward added 15 rushes for 85 yards for Tattnall, and Loftin Whiddon made a 34-yard field goal right before halftime.

No. 2 Aquinas 42, No. 15 St. Francis 28.  No Ruben Garnett, no problem for the Irish. Daniel Lindsey filled in nicely for Garnett, who sat out most of the game with a foot injury, according to the Augusta Chronicle. Lindsey scored four touchdowns, two rushing and two on receptions, to lead the defending private school champions to their 26th consecutive win.  St. Francis, making its first appearance in the state playoffs, trailed just 7-6 after the first quarter before Aquinas exploded for 28 unanswered points.  Irish head coach James Leonard told the Chronicle he expects Garnett to be ready next week.

Quarterfinals

Top Bracket

No. 1 Calvary Day (11-0) vs. No. 9 Mt. Pisgah (8-3)

No. 4 Prince Avenue (9-2) vs. No. 5 ELCA (5-6)

Bottom Bracket

No. 3 Mt. Paran (11-0) vs. No. 6 Savannah Christian (10-1)

No. 2 Aquinas (11-0) vs. No. 7 Tattnall Square (10-1)

Public

No. 1 Marion County 52, No. 16 Greenville 6.  Leading 21-6 early in the third quarter, the defending public school champions scored four touchdowns off of four Greenville turnovers in a five-minutes span to pull away, according to the Columbus Ledger Enquirer.  Junior RB/WR/DB Lorenzo Smothers scored four touchdowns – a 30-yard interception return, a 36-yard pass from Dustin Eckert, and runs of 16 and 5 yards.  Johnny Royal added two touchdown runs for the Eagles.

No. 5 Charlton County 23,  No. 12 Lincoln County 22 (OT).  Charlton County roared back from a 16-0 fourth quarter deficit to force overtime with less than 30 seconds left on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Nettles to Andrew Lee, and a 2-point conversion pass from Nettles to Curtis Nixon. Lincoln County scored a touchdown on its overtime possession but Charlton County blocked the extra point kick and won the game on a 3-yard touchdown run by Lee and a successful point after kick by Thomas Johnson.

No. 14 Calhoun County 13, No. 3 Mitchell County 12.  Three weeks ago, Mitchell County hung on for a 12-7 win over Calhoun County to take the Region 1 title. This time, Calhoun County prevailed in another close contest.  Mitchell County pulled to within a point of tying the game with two minutes left in regulation after Troy Chester hit Terry Burley with a 3-yard touchdown pass. But Burley was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 2-point conversion pass attempt from the 20-yard line was intercepted by Calhoun County's Sherrod Williams to preserve the win for the Cougars, according to the Albany Herald.  Williams also had a 20-yard touchdown run.

No. 6 Commerce 37, No. 11 Clinch County  7. Will Thomas scored four touchdowns running behind a dominant offensive line, and the Tiger defense forced three Clinch County turnovers as Commerce won its first state playoff game since 2009, according to the Commerce News Today.

Other results ...

No. 8 Mt. Zion-Carroll 30, No. 9 Emanuel County Institute 21

No. 4 Hawkinsville 20, No. 13 Jenkins County 14

No. 10 Dooly County 29, No. 7 Claxton 18

No. 2 Irwin County 28, No. 15 Atkinson County 0

Quarterfinals

Top Bracket

No. 1 Marion County (11-0) vs. No. 8 Mt. Zion-Carroll (8-3)

No. 4 Hawkinsville (10-1)  vs. No. 5 Charlton County (10-1)

Bottom Bracket

No. 6 Commerce (8-3) vs. No. 14 Calhoun County (8-3)

No. 2 Irwin County (9-1-1) vs. No. 10 Dooly County (8-3)