Class 4A Blog: Carver-Columbus and Benedictine advance to finals

2020 GHSA football championships at Centre Park Stadium.

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2020 GHSA football championships at Centre Park Stadium.

Carver-Columbus and Benedictine survived the semifinals and will be squaring off in the Class 4A championship this Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Center Parc Stadium. Here’s a look at the Tigers’ and Cadets’ semifinal triumphs.

Host Carver-Columbus trailed the whole game until Jaiden Credle’s 54-yard touchdown with 2:27 left and Devin Riles’ game-deciding two-point conversion that gave them the one-point victory (22-21) over Cedartown. The Bulldogs opened up a 14-0 lead off of a pair of rushing touchdowns by Cedric Washington in the first quarter. Carver was able to even up 14-14 at the half with a 12-yard Riles touchdown run and a 54-yard touchdown pass from Riles to Cam Hudson. Washington returned to the endzone for his third score on a 33-yard carry to put the Bulldogs back up 21-14 and the teams battled back-and-forth until Credle’s late score. Cedartown forced a turnover on downs inside the 10-yard line with just six minutes left before Carver’s defense got the stop and set up the game-winning drive. Carver-Columbus will make its first appearance in the finals since 2007.

No. 2-ranked Benedictine bested visiting North Oconee by a margin of 42-32 in a semifinals game that featured four lead changes to advance to the state title game for the first time since 2016. Auburn-commit Holden Geriner put the Cadets on the board with a scoring strike to Zaquan Bryan before the Titans took a 14-7 lead with Dominic Elder’s 3-yard run and Khalil Barnes’ reception of a Max Wilson touchdown pass. Geriner found Bryan for another touchdown early in the second, and following a North Oconee three-and-out, Kameron Edge put Benedictine up 21-14. The Titans added a field goal before the break and a Brooks Thompson touchdown reception early in the second half to reclaim the lead, but Edge hauled in a touchdown pass from Geriner on third-and-long and UGA baseball-commit Justin Thomas found the end zone shortly after for a 35-24 Benedictine advantage. North Oconee was able to get back within a field goal early in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and successful two-point conversion. The Titans failed to score again, however, and Geriner added a touchdown on a QB sneak with 3:19 remaining for the game’s final points. The Cadets will face Carver-Columbus in the title game.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR FRIDAY:

Carver-Columbus and Benedictine will meet for the first time, and it will be a contrast of styles as Carver-Columbus’ downhill offense goes up against a potent Benedictine offense led by quarterback and Auburn-commit Holden Geriner. Carver is averaging nearly 300 rushing yards per game and also has the ability to spark the passing game with Devin Riles. Benedictine’s offense is more evenly distributed with a 226.5 averaging passing yards per game and 228.9 rushing yards per game. In terms of major contributors, Carver’s Jaiden Credle and Benedictine’s Justin Thomas have both rushed in 23 touchdowns this season. Credle has also racked up 388 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while Thomas has contributed 779 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through the air.