Class 3A Blog: Dawson County downs Sandy Creek, Stephens upends Rockmart in first round of state playoffs

Well, there were a few upsets in the first round.

The biggest was likely Dawson County, the No. 2 seed from Region 7, upending Sandy Creek, the No. 3 seed from Region 5.

The Patriots, a week removed from beating top-ranked Cedar Grove in its Region 5 closer, garnered the No. 3 seed following a points-differential tie-breaker with Carver and Cedar Grove. That tie-breaker will leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Sandy Creek hopefuls.

Dawson County trailed 7-0 after the first quarter, but outscored Sandy Creek 19-7 in the second quarter and 10-6 in the third quarter to lead 29-20 entering the fourth. Sandy Creek pulled within two points (28-27) after a Geimere Latimer touchdown run with nine minutes left in the game, but the Tigers responded with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dominic Leblanc to Braedon Hubbard that sealed the victory.

Leblanc kicked two field goals (35, 33 yards) and passed to Conley Dyer for a touchdown. Mason Palmour passed to Hubbard for a touchdown, and Jackson Grindle kicked a 33-yard field goal for Dawson. Matt Bennett returned a fumble 11 yards for a touchdown for the Tigers.

Sandy Creek quarterback Geimere Latimer passed to Miles Thornton on passes of 83 and 25 yards for touchdowns, and Dorian Graham II scored on a 55-yard run. Dawson County will travel to Pierce County for the second round.

Just one No. 4 seed – Stephens County from Region 8 – advanced after upending Region 6 No. 1 Rockmart in the top-right quadrant of the bracket.

Here’s how the rest of first round played out:

  • In the top-left quadrant of the bracket: Oconee County narrowly avoided another bracket-busting upset against Adairsville before pulling ahead 29-22. The Warriors will face Crisp County in the second round after the Cougars beat Harlem 41-0. Cedar Grove’s 79-0 victory against White County set up a second-round game against Southeast Bulloch, which won 42-16 against Long County.
  • In the bottom-left quadrant: Appling County defeated Johnson-Savannah 42-8 and will travel to Cherokee Bluff for the second round after the Bears beat Greater Atlanta Christian 38-17. After leading 14-10 at the half, Cherokee Bluff outscored GAC 24-7 in the second half. Cherokee Bluff running back Jayquan Smith scored on runs of 75, 70 and 5 yards to lead the Bears. Sebastian Irons passed to Marlion Jackson for a 75-yard touchdown, Brayden Nance scored on a 2-yard run, and Michael Arbour kicked a 15-yard field goal for Cherokee Bluff. Ringgold’s 30-21 victory against Hart County advanced the Tigers past the first round for the first time since 2013, when it made it to the semifinals. Ringgold will travel to Thomson for the second round after the Bulldogs 21-20 victory against Jackson.
  • In the top-right quadrant: Burke County defeated Mary Persons 48-21 and will host Stephens County, which won 27-13 against Region 6 No. 1 Rockmart. … Carver-Atlanta beat North Hall 56-17 and will travel to Liberty County, which defeated Region 1 No. 4 Brantley County 30-28.
  • In the bottom-right quadrant: Peach County defeated Morgan County 42-3 in the first round and got a second-round date with top-ranked Monroe Area. Monroe beat North Murray 58-14 in the first round. The winner of Peach County/Monroe Area will face the Dawson County/Pierce County winner in the quarterfinals.