Class 4A Blog: No. 2 seed Perry and seven region champs advance to quarterfinals

Westminster HS versus Stephenson HS at James Hallford Stadium, Friday night, October 7, 2022 (Photo Jamie Spaar for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Westminster HS versus Stephenson HS at James Hallford Stadium, Friday night, October 7, 2022 (Photo Jamie Spaar for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Elite 8 field is set with seven region champions and Region 2 No. 2 seed Perry advancing to the quarterfinals. Region 1 champion Bainbridge was the lone top seed to fall and the Bearcats were ousted in a 7-3 battle with Perry. Ahmad Gordon’s 47-yard scamper with three minutes left in the second quarter gave visiting Perry a 7-3 lead over Bainbridge. It proved to be the game’s only touchdown and also ended up being the final points in what was a defensive struggle from start to finish. Bainbridge opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal by Nicholas Tyre in the first quarter but the offense failed to produce anything else the rest of the night. A clutch pass from Colter Ginn to Kory Pettigrew for a first down allowed the Panthers to run out the clock at the end of the game.

Region 2 champion Spalding improved to 12-0 with a 20-0 win over Troup. Following a scoreless first quarter, host Spalding needed a jolt and got it in the form of a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ronald Moore Jr. en route to a shutout victory over Troup County. The Jaguars led 14-0 at halftime following a 15-yard touchdown run by Robert Henderson before Henderson hauled in a 58-yard scoring strike from Cur’Tavian Clark in the third quarter. Spalding’s dominant defensive effort featured a fumble recovery by Cedric Evans.

Two-time defending state champion and Region 3 No. 1 seed Benedictine cruised to a 31-7 win over LaGrange. Benedictine scored the last 31 points of the game to swiftly erase a brief 7-0 deficit and overwhelm visiting LaGrange. The Cadets built a 24-7 advantage by halftime and led by the final 31-7 margin with more than eight minutes still remaining in the third quarter. They got two touchdowns by Bryce Baker, one on a 65-yard pass from Luke Kromenhoek. Na’Seir Samuel added a 42-yard touchdown run, Connor Ferguson tacked on a 40-yard field goal and Bubba Frazier returned an interception 75 yards to the endzone.

Region 4 champion Starr’s Mill scored a 45-27 win over New Hampstead. Starr’s Mill erased early deficits of 7-0, 14-7 and 20-14 before pulling away from visiting New Hampstead. The Panthers led 24-20 at halftime and 45-20 going into the fourth quarter after reeling off 31 points in a row. Logan Inagawa ran for two touchdowns and tossed a 65-yard scoring strike to Andersen Cardoza. Starr’s Mill also got a pair of TDs on the ground by Dorsey Benefield, one from 59 yards out and the last score of the night from 15 yards away. Two of the Panthers’ scores were set up by Taylor Ratinaud interceptions. The Panthers also got a 44-yard field goal by Hunter Meeks as time expired in the first half.

Region 5 champion Stockbridge survived a 28-24 win over Westminster to improve to 10-2 and win its 10th-straight game. Jayden Scott scored on a three-yard run with 55 seconds remaining to give Stockbridge a come-from-behind win over visiting Westminster. The Wildcats took a 24-21 lead on a 30-yard halfback pass from Fain Barton to Armstrong Jones midway through the fourth quarter and got the ball back on an interception by Wade Penn, but they could not run out the clock. Stockbridge turned Westminster over on downs with less than two minutes remaining and then engineered a game-winning drive. Scott also scored on a 75-yard scamper in the second quarter, while Cobey Thompkins threw touchdown passes to Ryan Johnson and Jayden Howard for the Tigers.

Region 6 champion Stephenson closed out a 35-7 win over Luella. Stephenson surged to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on the way to a convincing home win over Luella. Quarterback Marte Barton and running back Tyler Bercy connected on each of the Jaguars’ first two touchdowns, one from 30 yards out and the other from 25 yards away. Colin Seals quickly added a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown. Midway through the second quarter Stephenson answered Luella’s lone touchdown when Trent Fields Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff for a score. Andrew Perry eventually iced the game all by himself in the fourth quarter, intercepting a Lions pass and then scoring a rushing touchdown of his own.

Undefeated Central-Carroll (12-0) and Region 7 champion advanced with a 38-10 win over Lovett. Jonaz Walton rushed for three touchdowns as Central-Carroll pulled away from visiting Lovett. It was 0-0 after one quarter before the Lions got rolling, powering their way to leads of 14-3 at halftime and 28-3 going into the fourth quarter. They also got a touchdown run by Ty Brewer, a scoring strike from Will Morris to Jayelen White and a field goal from Jose Ortega. Lovett’s lone touchdown came in the form of a nine-yard scamper by Preston Lusink.

Finally, Region 8 champion North Oconee cruised to 12-0 with a 35-9 win over Cedartown. In a rematch of last year’s semifinal showdown, North Oconee got revenge over visiting Cedartown. The Titans jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter behind touchdown runs from Max Wilson and Tate Titshaw, and they never looked back. Cedartown pulled to within 14-9 on a 55-yard scoring strike from Drew Ledbetter to Demarcus Gardner, but North Oconee padded its lead when Brooks Thompson returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Titshaw and Trey Lenhardt put the game away in the fourth with touchdown runs.


R5#1 Stockbridge at R2#1 Spalding R8#1 North Oconee at R3#1 Benedictine R4#1 Starr’s Mill at R7#1 Central-Carroll R2#2 Perry at R6#1 Stephenson