Class 5A blog: Title-worthy drama dominates second round

High school football
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High school football

Credit: For the AJC

The Class A teams who were ranked No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 all got knocked off Friday in the second round of the playoffs, each in contests played in a state championship-type atmosphere. Still standing after al the tumult is No. 4 Warner Robins, the defending champion, and No. 5 Creekside, who both prevailed in dramatic fashion.

The most-anticipated game was No. 4 Warner Robins at No. 4 Cartersville, the rematch of last year’s state championship game. Unlike that game, a romp by Warner Robins, this one went down to the wire and was determined by defense, with the Demons prevailing 24-17.

Warner Robins got a pair of touchdown passes from Christon Lane, the first to Cam Flowers and the second a 40-yard connection with Daveon Walker. Fred Perry, who ran for 200-plus yards, scored from the Wildcat formation and Daniel Barber added a field goal.

Amari White scored twice for Cartersville, one on a run, the other on an 83-yard punt return. The Purple Hurricanes added a field goal from Jesus Gutierrez.

But the game was decided in the final minute by the Warner Robins defense. Cartersville had five tries to score from inside the 5, but got turned aside each time. Linebacker Jay Carter made two game-saving plays, including a stop for no gain on fourth-and-goal to seal the win.

No. 9 Blessed Trinity 28, No. 2 Woodward Academy 13: The Titans leaned on their offensive line and the running skills of Justice Haynes to advance to the third round. Hayes ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns

Woodward began the game with a 90-yard kickoff return by Damari Alston, who later returned a kick for 80 yards to set up another threat that fizzled in the fourth quarter. But the Auburn commit was otherwise placed under wraps by the BT defense for most of the game, running 15 times for 65 yards.

No. 6 Calhoun 49, No. 3 Ware County 42: The Yellow Jackets took their final lead on a touchdown run from Caden Williams with under two minutes remaining, then came up with the big defensive play – forcing a fumble at the 1 -- to keep Ware out of the end zone.

Calhoun quarterback Christian Lewis threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, including the tying score with four minutes left. He threw touchdown passes to Cole Speer, Peyton Law and Quin Smith. Williams ran for two touchdowns and Smith ran for another.

Ware County quarterback Thomas Castellanos ran for three touchdowns and Cartevious Norton ran for another for the Gators.

No. 4 Creekside 41, No. 8 St. Pius 34: Nyqua Lett threw three touchdown passes, two to Derrick White and the game-winner to Trey Edwards with only 10 seconds remaining. Cameron Burch ran for two touchdowns for the Seminoles. St. Pius got running touchdowns from Austin Taylor, Jack Tchienchou, Shug Bentley and Cameron DeBose. Jack Galvez kicked a pair of field goals.

Clarke Central 24, Starr’s Mill 7: Will Richardson carried 27 times for 203 yards and one touchdown to lead the Gladiators, who reach the quarterfinals for the third time in the last four seasons. Lucian Anderson threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Eli Warrington – one of only three passes thrown by Clarke -- and Cooper Evans kicked a field goal. The Clarke defense produced points when safety Bilal Jones came up with a 30-yard scoop-and-score. Starr’s Mill got its only points on a 7-yard pass from William Yarbrough to Josh Phifer.

Jones County 66, Eastside 42: The Greyhounds got 347 yards and three touchdowns passing from John Alan Richter and 207 yards rushing and four touchdowns from Javious Bond. Evan West was 9-for-9 on extra points and executed four straight onside kicks, three of them recovered by Jones, and made a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return. Dallas Johnson ran for three touchdowns for Eastside.

No. 10 Whitewater 49, Lithia Springs 33: The Wildcats extended their winning streak to 10 games. Whitewater had a two-score lead at halftime and used its running attack to keep the Lions at bay the rest of the game.

Villa Rica 34, Harris County 21: The Wildcats, led by T.J. Harvison and Bryson Ausby, ran for 296 yards and overcame three turnovers en route to winning their ninth straight game.

Quarterfinal matchups: Creekside at Whitewater, Warner Robins at Jones County, Blessed Trinity at Villa Rica, Calhoun at Clarke Central.

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