Cedar Grove silenced Cavaliers’ star quarterback Jake Merklinger and an offense that was averaging more than 45 points a game.
E.J. Colson scored on a Saints’ first drive, which ate 7:16 off the clock and featured conversions on third and fourth downs. It was foreboding. The Saints meticulously ate up clock, scored when they needed to and kept the Cavaliers offense at bay.
Carver-Atlanta’s 28-23 victory against No. 6 Thomasville propelled the Panthers into the semis and set up a possible second consecutive state-championship appearance.
Carver trailed 13-0 early in the second quarter but took a 16-13 lead at the half before outlasting the Bulldogs in a second-half dogfight to secure the victory. Jay Randall put the Bulldogs ahead 6-0 on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter, then Thomasville went ahead 13-0 on an 89-yard touchdown run from Randall.
Carver scored on a 13-yard fumble return by Jamontez Hines, and a 2-point conversion run from Shoun Bilal to cut the lead to 13-8. Carver took the lead on a 35-yard pass from Bryce Bowens to Zyee’k Mender, and the 2-point conversion run from Jaquavious Bryant made the score 16-13.
Class 3A Semifinals schedule
R5 #3 Carver-Atlanta at R5 #2 Sandy Creek
R8 #3 Oconee Co. at R5 #1 Cedar Grove