Friday night proved large for ranked 3A teams as they took the field against ranked opponents from other classifications. Cedar Grove, Westminster, Oconee County and Pierce County were all challenged by ranked programs from other classes and each won the contest.
Cedar Grove, ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls and since, opened its season with an emphatic victory over Class 7A No. 7 Milton 14-7.
“Last night just showed the quality of the class – in that top 10 -- from top-to-bottom,” said Cedar Grove coach Miguel Patrick. “You can’t say we are not as good as any other classification. Just because we might not have the numbers of those schools but put us up, pound-for-pound, 3A is a very, very tough class.”
Here’s the Cedar Grove recap:
No. 1 Cedar Grove 14, 7A No. 7 Milton 7*: With the ball on the Cedar Grove 10-yard line, defensive back Kayin Lee broke up a fade pass from Milton’s Devin Farrell to the corner of the end zone on the last play of the game to preserve the win for the visiting Saints. Cedar Grove quarterback Austin Smith was 13-of-20 passing for 113 yards, but he won the game on the ground for the Saints with eight carries for 104 yards and his team’s only two touchdowns. Smith scored his first touchdown at the 5:26 mark of the third quarter on 3rd-and-goal from the 10, bursting up the middle on a quarterback draw. The Saints' PAT failed, and Milton still led 7-6, but Smith put Cedar Grove on top with a 22-yard TD rush with 11:06 to play in the fourth quarter. Antonio Taylor rushed for the two-point conversion to put Cedar Grove up 14-7. Milton got its touchdown with 2:38 remaining in the first half, when Farrell found star running back Jordan McDonald for a 19-yard score on a screen pass. McDonald left the game in the third quarter with an injury and did not return.
“One through ten,” said Patrick. “That is really a cointoss on any given Friday when we play each other or go against someone else, we can compete with higher classes, the top of the lower classes. 3A is really, really good. It is quality kids and it’s even better coaches. All the top 10 have great head coaches and great staffs. But 3A, to me, I love it. I think with the quality of the kids that we have and the quality of the coaches, we can go up against anybody.”
On Friday, Class 3A proved that to be true.
Here’s how the other programs performed.
-- Third-ranked Oconee County beat Class 2A No. 5 Thomasville 44-14. Peach County, ranked fourth, beat local-rival Mary Persons 42-7 opening 2-AAA play. No. 5 Greater Atlanta Christian beat Burke County 55-28.
-- With No. 6 Pierce County’s 20-13 victory over Class A-Private No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian, it marked the second week in a row that a 3A program beat the Chargers following No. 2 Crisp County’s 34-14 victory over ELCA last week.
No. 8 Westminster 27, 5A No. 7 St. Pius X 24*: John Collier threw three touchdown passes to lead visiting Westminster past St. Pius X. The Wildcats led 24-14 at halftime and held off a late charge by St. Pius X after Alex Bacchetta kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter to break a 24-24 tie. Defensive end Kiran Gadde set up the field goal with a fumble recovery, and he also came up with the game-clinching sack in the final minute. Collier threw touchdown passes of 33 and 27 yards to Holden Staes, while also connecting with Jacob Fleming on a 31-yard scoring strike. The Golden Lions got two rushing touchdowns from Mason Benefield and a 50-yard field goal by Ryan Kirschner.
-- No. 9 Rockmart was not challenged against Sonoraville in its 68-7 victory. The Yellow Jackets moved into AAA this season after a stint in Class AA.
Three teams – No. 2 Crisp County, No. 7 White County and No. 10 Sandy Creek – rested this week.
*recaps provided by Score Atlanta.
Top 10 Class 3A Results
1. (1) Cedar Grove (1-0): Beat Class 7A No. 7 Milton 14-7.
2. (2) Crisp County (3-0): Off.
3. (3) Oconee County (4-0): Beat Class 2A No. 5 Thomasville 44-14.
4. (4) Peach County (2-1): Beat Mary Persons 42-7 in a 2-AAA game
5. (5) Greater Atlanta Christian (3-0): Beat Burke County 55-28.
6. (6) Pierce County (4-0): Beat A-Private No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian 20-13.
7. (8) White County (4-0): Off.
8. (NR) Westminster (Atlanta) (2-0): Beat Class 5A No. 7 St. Pius X 27-24.
9. (9) Rockmart (3-1): Beat Sonoraville 68-7.
10. (7) Sandy Creek (1-2): Off.
About the Author
Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com