Forget passing; these semifinalists love to run

The last remaining pass-first team in the Class AAAAA playoffs was eliminated last week when Houston County lost to Allatoona 59-47 in the quarterfinals.

Houston County averaged 321.4 yards passing per game, and junior quarterback Jake Fromm (committed to Alabama) finished the year 250-for-424 for 4,099 yards. That’s 450 yards more than the remaining four starting quarterbacks combined.

So the semifinals are set, with Allatoona taking on Northgate and Ware County playing Glynn Academy on Friday.

Here’s a look at the four remaining teams and the running games on which they heavily rely:

Acworth, Ga. -- Altoona senior quarterback Brandon Rainey (13) stumbles into the end zone for a touch down in the first half of play as Houston County senior defensive end Salomon Raas (87) defends in the third round of football playoffs Friday, November 27, 2015. SPECIAL/DANIEL VARNADO

Credit: Chip Saye

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Credit: Chip Saye

*Allatoona: The Buccaneers average 291 yards per game rushing. They have increased that average to 311 yards in the playoffs, a remarkable feat considering they have been without leading rusher Russell Halimon since he suffered a knee injury early in their first-round game. Halimon rushed for 1,543 yards and 13 touchdowns on 205 carries. Brandon Archibald (662 yards for the season), Charles Anderson (528) and quarterback Brandon Rainey (582) have stepped up in his absence, as each has a 100-yard rushing game in the playoffs. Rainey, who ran for a school-record seven touchdowns last week, has passed for 1,366 yards and 15 touchdowns.

*Northgate: The Vikings average 40 points and 301 yards per game rushing (374 overall) and are led by two junior running backs who have combined for 2,956 yards and 40 touchdowns. Ton Evans is the leader with 1,850 yards and 23 touchdowns and could eclipse the 2,000-yard mark if he runs for a little above his average this week. Fullback Kyle Cater isn't there just for his blocking; he has run for 1,106 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Kyle McLaren has passed for 933 yards. Northgate's defense allows just 8.8 points per game, by far the best among the remaining teams.

*Ware County: The Gators average 255.2 yards rushing (283.7 in the playoffs) and are coming off a season-best 453 yards and six touchdowns rushing in a 46-21 victory over Drew last week. Dedrick Mills (128 carries, 1,153 yards and 22 touchdowns) and Jaquez Bolds (107-899-12) get most of the workload. Mills ran for a season-high 270 yards and four touchdowns last week. He also was held to just 33 yards on nine carries during the regular season against Glynn Academy, which limited the Gators to a season-low 69 yards on 32 carries. Junior quarterback Jemar Lincoln is 56-for-106 passing for 794 yards and seven touchdowns.

*Glynn Academy: The Red Terrors average 236.8 yards rushing, and the 349-yard performance in a 24-21 victory over top-ranked Stockbridge last week was their third-best game of the season. Quarterback Deejay Dallas is the leading rusher with 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he is 43-for-80 passing for 556 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Garrison Hurd missed several games with an injury but has rushed for 757 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Hurd, who missed the regular-season game against Ware County, had a season-high 205 yards and scored a touchdown against Stockbridge last week.