The teams’ offenses had their way early as South Atlanta led 16-14 midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a 7-yard run by quarterback James Lawton and a 40-yard touchdown pass from Lawton to James Ferrell and two conversion runs. Callaway countered with a 30-yard touchdown run by Kier Jackson and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Deshun Coleman to Cameron Tucker.
Facing third-and-seven at the Callaway 27-yard line. Brown and the Hornet offense struck again. A backpedaling Lawton drew the Cavalier rush to him before he lofted a screen pass in the middle of the field to Brown who did the rest by breaking two tackles on his way to the endzone. Callaway kept Brown out of the endzone on the conversion run attempt, but South Atlanta had pushed its lead to 22-14.
Callway’s offense responded on the ensuing possession, moving to the South Atlanta 25-yard line after a 36-yard catch and run on a screen pass from Coleman to Jackson, and eventually to the Hornet’s 10-yard line. But the South Atlanta defense held and took its 22-14 lead into halftime.
After the break, Callaway scored on four consecutive possessions. The Cavaliers went three-and-out on their first possession but followed that with a 25-yard field goal by Blake Eubanks and a 3-yard touchdown run by Amarion Truitt to take a 25-22 lead into the fourth quarter after Carlos Billingslea’s 2-point conversion run.
Jackson’s 3-yard touchdown run pushed the Cavalier lead to 32-22 midway through the period. Then Callaway put the game away when Karmelo Burton picked off a pass in the endzone, and two plays into the Cavalier’s possession, Truitt dashed 76 yards for a touchdown.
It was the first loss in more than three months for a South Atlanta squad that had won 11 straight and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
“I’m so proud of my guys,” said Woolridge, in just his first season leading the Hornet program. “They made some great adjustments at halftime, but nobody expected us to be here. I told our guys they have no reason to hang their heads. We have 20 starters coming back, so now we’ll get into the weight room and come back stronger next year.”
Callaway will face the Thomasville-Rabun County winner in next week’s semifinals.