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Semifinals in review

Class AAAAAAA 

*Milton 28, Lowndes 17: Milton took a 21-0 first-half lead and held on. Lowndes got within 21-17 early in the fourth quarter, but Jordan Yates threw an 11-yard TD pass to Holden Shaw with 8:04 left for the final margin. Yates was 15-of-20 passing for 182 yards. Lowndes' Travis Tisdale rushed for 168 yards, but Lowndes was 6-of-17 passing for 19 yards. 

- What it means: Milton, which fielded its first varsity team in 1950, is in the state finals for the first time. A north Fulton County school, Milton can become the first team outside of Gwinnett County or Region 1 to win a state title since Roswell in 2006, or to win one outright since Southwest DeKalb in 1995. 

*Colquitt County 22, Archer 21: Ryan Fitzgerald kicked five field goals, including a 37-yarder on the final play of regulation for the tie, and Camari Louis blocked an extra point in overtime to seal the victory. Fitzgerald also made a 50-yarder in the game. Archer had taken a 15-12 lead with 4:31 left on Carter Peevy's 4-yard run at the end of a 76-yard drive. Peevy was 15-of-19 passing for 198 yards. Colquitt got even with a 12-play drive while converting three third-down plays. Both teams scored quickly in overtime. Jaycee Harden was 15-of-24 passing for 110 yards. Ty Leggett rushed for 69 yards. 

- What it means: Colquitt County advances to its fifth state championship game since 2010 with a chance to win its third. Colquitt, ranked in the top five of six national polls, also remains in contention for a national title and an invitation into the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series. 

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Class AAAAAA 

*Northside (Warner Robins) 14, Dacula 7: Northside took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and held on. Oliver Prather's interception at the Dacula 13-yard line set up the second touchdown. Dacula scored with 2:42 left on Jarrett Jenkins' 2-yard run, but Northside recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock. Northside led in total yards 229-191 in a defensive battle. Northside held 1,000-yard rusher Trenton Jones to 7 yards on nine carries. 

- What it means: Northside is in the state finals for the seventh time, first since its 2014 championship season. Northside is one of nine teams in history to finish .500 or below in the regular season and reach the finals. Dacula is 0-4 in semifinals. 

*Lee County 42, Lanier 7: Lee County got two big plays on special teams to build a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised from there. A bad snap on Lanier's first punt gave Lee County the ball at the 1-yard line, and Shandarious Kimbrough followed with his first of four touchdowns. Lee County blocked Lanier's next punt, and Zach Mason returned it 24 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game. 

- What it means: Lee County is back in the finals with a chance to defend its state title against a team that it defeated 24-7 in the regular season. 

Class AAAAA 

*Bainbridge 20, Stockbridge 19: Caleb McDowell took a lateral on kickoff return and ran it 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 1:37 left. Bainbridge trailed 13-0 entering the fourth quarter and scored on an 11-play, 95-yard drive, then scored again on freshman Zion Bouie's 41-yard interception return of a halfback pass with 5:29 left for a 14-13 lead. Stockbridge retook the lead 19-13 with 1:52 left, then squibbed the kickoff, leading to a bizarre turn of events. There was a loose ball that Stockbridge nearly recovered but eventually bounced into the hands of Bainbridge's Randy Fillingham, who advanced the ball about 4 yards before tossing the ball back to McDowell, who scored. Quayde Hawkins was 22-of-35 passing for one touchdown in a game in which both teams struggled to run the ball. 

- What it means: Despite a 5-5 regular season, Bainbridge is in the state finals for the first time since 1982, the year of its only state title. Bainbridge is one of nine teams in history that finished .500 or below in the regular season to make the finals. Stockbridge, which has never made a state final, is 0-3 in semifinals over the past five seasons. 

*Warner Robins 45, Rome 28: Warner Robins scored the final 17 points of the game after Rome forged a 28-28 tie with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Dylan Fromm was 39-of-53 passing for 376 yards and four touchdowns. Marcayll Jones had 10 catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Rome's Jamious Griffin ran for 153 yards, giving him 2,815 on the season. Warner Robins outgained Rome 481-414. 

- What it means: Warner Robins has avenged its 35-0 loss to Rome in the 2017 final and can win its first state championship since 2004. Rome's 40-game winning streak, seventh-longest in state history, is over. 

Class AAAA 

*Cartersville 17, Marist 14: Cartersville trailed 14-10 entering the fourth quarter but got a 37-yard touchdown pass from Tee Webb to Devonte Ross with 7:51 left, then made one last defensive stop to preserve the victory. Ross had four receptions for 127 yards and scored both Cartersville touchdowns. Kyle Hamilton had two interceptions for Marist, which also recovered two Cartersville fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Jalen Clark to give the War Eagles a 14-10 lead late in the first half. 

- What it means: Cartersville advanced to its third state final in four seasons, even in the absence of graduated QB Trevor Lawrence, the former five-star recruit now starting at Clemson. Cartersville's senior class improved to 55-1, the best four-year mark since West Rome's 59-1 run in 1982-85. Cartersville now faces the only team that has beaten the Purple Hurricanes in that time, Blessed Trinity. 

*Blessed Trinity 51, Troup 35: Blessed Trinity's Steele Chambers ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Davis in a game that had almost 1,000 yards of total offense. Jake Smith threw touchdown passes of 95 and 36 yards to James Bryant and ran 9 yards for a score. Troup trailed 32-6 late in the first half and eventually cut the lead to 37-27 in the third quarter but got no closer. Troup QB Kobe Hudson passed for 186 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 182 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. 

- What it means: Blessed Trinity, the defending champion, is back in the finals for the third time in four seasons. 

Class AAA 

*Cedar Grove 30, Pierce County 6: Robert Jones rushed for 259 yards on 13 carries and scored on runs of 78 and 87 yards. Rashad Cheney and Alvin Williams combined for 5.5 tackles for losses. Rashod Dubinion scored on a 70-yard kickoff return after a safety for a 16-0 lead in the first quarter. 

- What it means: Cedar Grove, the 2016 state champion, is in the finals for the second time in three seasons. Pierce County finishes its best season in history at 13-1. 

*Peach County 22, Calhoun 7: Jaydon Gibson threw a 31-yard TD pass late in the first half for a 13-7 lead that Peach would not relinquish. Both defenses were stout. Calhoun's Gavin Gray was 19-of-40 passing for 244 yards, but an early injury to 1,000-yard rusher Zack Fuller and Peach County's defense conspired to shut down Calhoun's running game, holding it to negative yardage. Joshua Dickson, Zaviann Bonner and Cedric Hillsman had two tackles for losses apiece. Peach scored its first touchdown after Jamir Best blocked a punt and its final TD when Justin Harris returned an interception 46 yards. Gibson was 12-of-18 passing for 117 yards. 

- What it means: Peach County is in the state finals for the ninth time in search of its fourth state title, first since 2009. The Trojans have avenged their 2017 loss to Calhoun in the state finals. Calhoun's 26-game winning streak is over. 

Class AA 

*Heard County 38, Fitzgerald 30: Aaron Beasley rushed for 260 yards and three touchdowns, one a 15-yard run in overtime. He then intercepted a pass on Fitzgerald's overtime possession to seal the win. Alijah Huzzie rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, was 6-of-8 passing for 81 yards and threw two two-point conversions. Huzzie also scored on a 73-yard run to open the second half. Heard County led in total yards 492-317. Fitzgerald had a chance to win the game in regulation, but its 46-yard field-goal attempt on the final play hit the right upright. 

- What it means: Heard County, which started varsity football in 1972, is in its first state final and will get a rematch with Rockmart, which beat the Braves 33-0 in the regular season. 

*Rockmart 28, Callaway 22: Rockmart led 28-20 after Javin Whatley's 8-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter but gave up a safety with 6:39 left and had to survive two Callaway drives inside the Rockmart 20-yard line in the closing minutes. Logan Burge's interception in the final minute clinched it. Rockmart took the lead for good at 21-17 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Bailey to Reed Couch with 8:41 remaining in the third quarter. Rockmart's Markus Smith rushed for 93 yards on 16 carries. 

- What it means: Rockmart, which won its only state title in 1950, is in the state finals for the first time since 1957. 

Class A (Private) 

*Athens Academy 28, Prince Avenue Christian 21: Athens Academy took a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter and recovered two onside kicks to keep Prince Avenue from having a final chance to tie the game. Len'Neth Whitehead rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries. Payton Bowldes rushed for 86 yards on 14 carries. Athens Academy attempted only three passes and completed two for 28 yards. Athens Academy held Prince Avenue to 16 yards rushing. Prince Avenue's Brock Vandagriff was 18-of-33 passing for 211 yards. Athens Academy forced three turnovers and committed none. 

- What it means: Athens Academy, the 2017 state runner-up, is back in the finals, still seeking its first state title. Athens Academy now has an 8-7 lead in the series against its arch-rival. 

*Eagle's Landing Christian 70, Savannah Christian 21: QB Brayden Rush ran for 250 yards and five touchdowns, one a 91-yarder, on 12 carries. Keaton Mitchell rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Justin Robinson intercepted three passes, and Johnathan Youngblood intercepted two, one returned 41 yards for a touchdown. ELCA had 689 yards of total offense. 

- What it means: ELCA is one victory from joining West Rome (1982-85) and Buford (2007-10) as the only schools to win four consecutive state titles. The 70 points are the most ever scored in a semifinal. Keaton Mitchell's 47 touchdowns are second all-time to the 58 scored by Emanuel County Institute's Washaun Ealey in 2007. 

Class A (Public) 

*Irwin County 23, Pelham 6: Irwin County led only 10-6 in the third quarter, but Jamal Paulk caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith and D.J. Lundy ran for a score to help the Indians pull away. Lundy's first touchdown run, a 7-yarder, gave Irwin County a 10-0 lead with 9:50 remaining in the third quarter. Pelham, which came into the game averaging a state-best 52.83 points per game, was held to less than 34 for the first time this season. 

- What it means: Irwin is in the finals for the fourth time in five seasons with a chance to win its first state title since 1975. Pelham's best season in history ends at 12-1. 

*Clinch County 31, Marion County 23: Clinch County's Tyler Morehead scored on a 33-yard run and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Johnson to give the Panthers some breathing room in a game that was tight throughout. Trezmen Marshall's 55-yard touchdown run made it 31-17 heading into the fourth quarter. Morehead finished with 133 yards rushing, and Marshall had 95. Marion County QB Trice McCannon was 12-of-30 passing for 251 yards and rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries. His 4-yard run in the first quarter put the Eagles up 7-0, their only lead of the game. 

- What it means: Clinch County, the defending champion, is in its 10th state final with a chance for its eighth championship. 

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