Allatoona 30, Kell 15

Allatoona head coach Gary Varner addresses his team after its 30-15 victory over Kell on Friday in a Region 6-6A game at Allatoona (Photo by Chip Saye)

Allatoona head coach Gary Varner addresses his team after its 30-15 victory over Kell on Friday in a Region 6-6A game at Allatoona (Photo by Chip Saye)

Seventh-ranked Allatoona took a big step toward its first region championship in five years with a 30-15 victory Friday over visiting Kell in a matchup of the two remaining unbeaten teams in Region 6-6A play.

A win next week against Lassiter or in the regular-season finale against Pope would give the Buccaneers (7-0, 6-0) their first region title since 2015, when they won the Class 5A championship. Allatoona was the region and state runner-up last year behind Harrison, which moved to 7A this season.

Allatoona broke open what had been a defensive battle - the Buccaneers led 3-0 at halftime - with two long Elan Hall touchdown passes in a two-minute span late in the third quarter.

The first, a 49-yarder to Troy Glenn, helped the Buccaneers regain the momentum just three plays after Kell (4-3, 4-1) had cut the lead to 9-7 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Corbin LaFrance to Jamal Hill.

Allatoona forced a three-and-out on Kell’s next possession, and a 4-yard punt gave the Buccaneers the ball at the Kell 27. After a penalty on the next play, Hall threw down the right sideline to Caleb Moore, who made a great catch and run for the 38-yard touchdown, giving the Buccaneers a 23-7 lead with 2:16 to play in the quarter.

Another touchdown pass by LaFrance, a 21-yarder to Jaylon Brown, and two-point conversion got Kell back within 23-15 with 6:48 left, but the Longhorns never got the ball back with a chance to pull even.

Allatoona took possession at its 27-yard and drove 73 yards in nine plays, scoring on Hall’s 15-yard run to make it 30-15 with less than three minutes remaining. The key play on the drive was a 27-yard run by Glenn on a reverse on a third-and-8 play near midfield with 4:15 to play.

“That was a couple of big plays,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said of Glenn. “In the passing game, they were pressing trying to stop the run with everybody up, so we figured we needed to take some shots in the second half, and it paid off for us.”

Kell’s 15 points were the second-most allowed by the Buccaneers this season, and the Longhorns finished with 264 yards of total offense. But those numbers don’t tell the story of Allatoona’s defense, which came into the game allowing just 5.5 points per game, best in Class 6A.

The Buccaneers held Kell to minus-10 yards rushing, in large part because of 54 yards in losses from six sacks of LaFrance. The Longhorns needed 41 attempts to get their 274 passing yards, 151 of which came in the game’s final 14 minutes after Allatoona had taken its 23-7 lead. Kell had been averaging 38 points per game, second-best in Class 6A behind Buford.

“The defense did a great job,” Varner said. “I mean, to hold that team down for pretty much the game - there were a couple of big plays here and there - that was a great defensive effort. It took time for the offense to get going, but they had some big-time drives when we needed it.”

Allatoona finished with 183 yards rushing and 316 total yards. Jayden Ponder led the running game with 115 yards on 16 carries. Hall was 7-of-14 passing for 133 yards.

Kell - 0-0-7-8 - 15

Allatoona - 3-0-20-7 - 30

First quarter

A - Alex Stanford 30 field goal, 5:16

Third quarter

A - Dean Maddox 2 run (kick failed), 8:30

K - Jamal Hill 26 pass from Corbin LaFrance (Colby Kerns kick), 5:41

A - Troy Glenn 49 pass from Elan Hall (Gray Kelly kick), 4:19

A - Caleb Moore 38 pass from Hall (Kelly kick), 2:16

Fourth quarter

K - Jaylon Brown 21 pass from LaFrance (Hill pass from LaFrance), 6:48

A - Hall 15 run (Kelly kick), 2:38