Class 4A Blog: Semifinal Preview, Cedartown and North Oconee clash in battle of unbeatens

North Oconee and Cedartown will faceoff in the only semifinal in any classification matching the top two teams. Cedartown previously defeated North Oconee 56-0 in the second round of the 2020 playoffs and the Bulldogs carry a 13-0 record into Friday’s semifinals. North Oconee has also achieved a 13-0 record for the first time in school history and head coach Tyler Aurandt joined me on Wednesday to preview the matchup. You can watch that interview HERE

No. 1 ranked Cedartown trailed host Bainbridge 21-13 at the half before rallying past the Bearcats and improving to 13-0 with the 26-21 victory. Xavier Hargrove cut the deficit to 21-19 with a 23-yard touchdown run with 5:38 left in the third quarter and then senior Eli Barrow produced a sack and fumble recovery to set up a 4-yard Harlem Diamond touchdown run that proved to be the game-winner ahead of a scoreless final frame.

No. 2 ranked North Oconee took a 7-0 lead late in the first half with a Trey Lenhardt 70-yard interception return touchdown and tacked on a JJ Pole field goal at the buzzer to push the lead to 10-0 before cruising past Wayne County 31-14. Khalil Barnes forced a Wayne County fumble and Dominic Elder ran in a touchdown to push the Titans’ lead to 17-0. Jack Fabris produced another North Oconee turnover with an interception later in the third quarter and quarterback Max Wilson ran in an 8-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 24-0. Wayne County scored on a fumble recovery with 5:41 left in the game, but Elder returned to the endzone for his second touchdown run before Wayne County’s late 67-yard score marked the final tally.

On the other side of the bracket, Benedictine advanced to the semifinals for a third straight year with a 34-14 victory over Stockbridge. Stockbridge struck early with a-15 yard scoop-and-score, but Benedictine answered with back-to-back touchdowns. Stockbridge then knotted it up at 14-14 heading into the break. The Benedictine defense then clamped down in the second half and shut out Stockbridge. Bryce Baker scored a rushing touchdown in the second half and Zach Maxwell had a pick-six that effectively sealed the game for Benedictine. Asher Sigmon added two field goals from 30 and 34 yards out.

Troup County scored 31 unanswered points in the first half, then ultimately held off a furious rally by Holy Innocents’ to preserve a hard-fought 38-28 road win. Following an early 7-0 deficit, the Tigers got touchdowns both on the ground and through the air from quarterback Taeo Todd on the way to a 31-7 halftime advantage. Holy Innocents’ stormed back to get within three points at 31-28 with six minutes still remaining, but a time-consuming final drive by Troup County culminated with a clinching touchdown by Todd from four yards out. The Tigers also got touchdowns from Qua Moss, Maliki Poythress and Logan Sinkfield.