Class 5A: Four heavy hitters find way to title game

Credit: For the AJC

Credit: For the AJC

There are no surprises left after the third round of the state playoffs. The four teams remaining in Class 5A are all heavy hitters and a case can be made for each when it comes to them winning a state championship.

The quarterfinals produced some classics, which means the build-up for the semifinals will grow this week: Ware County beat Calhoun 35-0, Dutchtown outlasted Mays 40-34 in overtime, Warner Robins beat Creekside 31-28 in overtime, and Cartersville beat Coffee 56-38.

That sets the semifinals: Dutchtown at Ware County and Cartersville at Warner Robins, a rematch of the 2020 state championship game.

Warner Robins finds a way

Warner Robins is back in the semifinal for the sixth straight year, but the Demons had to work overtime for a 31-28 win over Creekside. The outcome was determined when Daniel Barber kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime after Creekside came up empty on its OT possession.

The Demons made some big defensive plays, one an interception from Rasean Dinkins that stopped a Creekside drive inside of two minutes. Warner Robins scored on a 64-yard pass from Isaiah Canion to Cam Flowers, as well as a 25-yard scoop-and-score by Vic Burley after a blocked punt.

“Our kids battled and we were able to pull it out,” Warner Robins coach Marquis Westbrook said.

Ware County gets its revenge

A year ago Calhoun stunned the Gators and went on to reach the state championship game. Ware didn’t let that happen again, as they jumped on the Yellow Jackets for a 21-0 halftime lead and went on for its third shutout.

Ware County used its strong running game to its advantage. Dae’jean Dennis carried 17 times for 86 yards and scored five touchdowns. Reggie Boyd ran 11 times for 69 yards. Quarterback Niko Smith was 9-for-17 for 50 yards with Jarvis Hayes catching five of those passes for 31 yards.

Dutchtown wins the Blizzy Bowl

The Bulldogs went the game to overtime when Sim Singh kicked a 29-yard field goal – his second of the game -- late in the fourth quarter. Dutchtown won it when Tishaun Brown came up with an interception in OT and Amarion Yarbough scored on a 3-yard run to win the game.

The Dutchtown defense also got an interception from Tarez Hamilton on the first play of the game, a forced fumble by Lemoine Hill Jr., and blocked an extra point kick.

Yarbough ran for two touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and ran for a two-point conversion. Jamal Bing scored on a 29-yard run.

Mays scored on two runs by Triston Morgan, a run by Omarion Kelly and a touchdown pass from Saulamon Evans.

The game was especially intriguing since Dutchtown coach Niketa “Blizzy” Battle was the former coach at Mays before taking over the Bulldogs’ program this season.

“This team is very special to the Dutchtown community,” Battle said via Twitter. “Continue to speak things into existence.”

No slip-up for Cartersville

The Purple Hurricanes bolted to a 21-0 lead after one quarter, led 42-14 at the half and overpowered the visiting Trojans.

Malachi Jeffries ran 17 times for 136 yards and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass. Quarterback Paul Gamble completed 8 of 15 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown, with Jamauri Brice and Collin Fletcher each catching three.

The 56 points were the most scored by Cartersville this year. The Canes have scored 136 points in their three playoff games.