Upper Left Bracket
No. 9 Wesleyan 42, No. 16 Savannah Christian 16
The Wolves (11-2) used a trick play to stretch their lead early in the third quarter, and went on to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2010. Leading 14-10, Wesleyan faced a fourth-and-five on its own 40 yard line on the Wolves’ first drive of the second half. Head coach Franklin Pridgen called for a fake punt and senior offensive lineman Josh Aspinwall picked up 46 yards, and on the next play, Griffin Caldwell scored from 14 yards out to extend the Wolves’ lead to 21-10. It was the first of four second half touchdown runs for Caldwell, who finished with over 200 yards rushing on 25 carries. Savannah Christian (8-4) took a 10-7 lead late in the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Conner Graham after a 3-yard touchdown run by Dawson Benton. But Wesleyan retook the lead just before halftime on a 1-yard touchdown run by J.C. French.
No. 4 Fellowship Christian 35, No. 12 Hebron Christian 28
Fellowship Christian took a 21-7 lead into the third quarter and hung on to advance to the semifinals for the second time in four seasons. Murphy Reeves scored two touchdowns on runs of 5 and 60 yards, with the last one providing the winning margin midway through the fourth quarter. Jayven Hall scored on a 6-yard run and a 2-yard pass from Eli Hildebrandt and Josh Cole had a 40-yard touchdown run for the Paladins (12-0). Hebron Christian (8-5) mounted a final drive in an effort to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over on downs near midfield. Quarterback Colton Gauthier threw three touchdown passes, one each to Justin Peavy, Donnovan Moorer, who also had a 45-yard touchdown, and Alex Pawson.
No. 2 Holy Innocents’ 28, No. 23 Mount Paran Christian 0
Holy Innocents (12-0) rode its physical ground game and swarming defense en route to advancing to the state semifinals for the first time in the program’s 14-year history. Senior FB/LB Michael Cox led all rushers with 170 yards, 99 coming on a touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Bears a 14-0 lead. QB Matt Davis ran for 112 yards and a touchdown and completed two of the three passes he attempted, one for a 55-yard touchdown to Landon Kardian. Meanwhile, Holy Innocents’ held Eagle senior QB Niko Vangarelli to just 40 yards 21 carries.
No. 6 Eagle’s Landing Christian 28, No. 3. Athens Academy 10
ELCA (11-1) eliminated the Spartans (11-1) for the third consecutive season on the strength of big plays and a strong defensive effort. The Chargers built a 14-0 lead by halftime after a 26-yard touchdown run by Josh Rogers and an 87-yard touchdown pass from Gabe Wright to Devon Dorsey. Athens Academy’s scores came on a 41-yard field goal by James Williams and a 60-yard touchdown pass from Palmer Bush to Deion Colzie. Also, Kurt Knisely had 115 yards rushing on 25 carries. The Spartans played the game without all-state LB/RB Len’Neth Whitehead, who suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury in October.
Upper Left Bracket
No. 1 Irwin County 54, No. 9 Manchester 12
No. 4 Clinch County 38, No. 21 Warren County 16
No. 2 Marion County 28, No. 7 Lincoln County 21
The Eagles (10-2) let a 21-7 lead slip away but Brandon Thomas’ 27-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter catapulted them into the semifinals for the first time since 2014.
No. 6 Pelham 31, No. 3 Mitchell County 20
Pelham (11-1) jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back, avenging a regular season loss to the Eagles (10-2).
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.