Friday night semifinals roundup

Milton vs. Walton

Credit: Score Atlanta

caption arrowCaption
Milton vs. Walton

Credit: Score Atlanta

Credit: Score Atlanta

No. 6-ranked Calhoun squared off with No. 9-ranked Blessed Trinity eight weeks after beating the Titans 32-27 in the regular season, and the Yellow Jackets came away with another win — this time by a margin of 24-7 — to advance to the state finals for the first time since 2017 and the first time ever as a Class 5A program. Calhoun dominated the first half, taking a 21-0 lead late in the second with Christian Lewis’ third touchdown pass of the night and second in a row to Cole Speer (his first went to Emaree Winston in the opening frame). On defense, the Yellow Jackets held Blessed Trinity to a missed 37-yard field goal attempt in the first, Quin Smith hauled in an interception in between the two Lewis-to-Speer connections, and Mason Green and Peyton Law registered a sack and a fumble recovery respectively on back-to-back plays to close out the half.

The Titans finally found life near the end of the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown by star running back Justice Haynes, but Smith returned the ensuing kickoff to the Blessed Trinity 24-yard line, ultimately setting up a 39-yard field goal from Sergio Sanchez to again make it a three-score game heading into the fourth. Calhoun will face reigning Class 5A champion Warner Robins next week in the finals.

The AJC has writers at Collins Hill 31, Grayson 0Milton 52, Walton 17, Buford 21, Carrollton 6, Langston Hughes 47, Dacula 28 and Cedar Grove 27, Appling County 6

Follow the links to the Prep Scoreboard, the Brackets or Todd Holcomb’s Friday Night Wrap.

See the rest of the recaps below.

5A

Warner Robins 40, Creekside 15

Defending state champion Warner Robins is heading to a fifth-straight Class 5A title game following an emphatic 40-15 road win over No. 5-ranked Creekside. Senior receiver Jafredrick Perry finished the game with four touchdowns and junior Chaz Sturn put the Demons on the board with a rushing score on Warner Robins’ first offensive play from scrimmage following Montrez Dinkins’ interception on Creekside’s opening drive. The Demons also got points off a Creekside punt attempt that ended in the ball going over the punter’s head and out the back of the end zone and a field goal with 5:20 remaining that put Warner Robins ahead 40-7.

4A

Benedictine 42, North Oconee 32

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.

Carver-Columbus 22, Cedartown 21

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. Cedartown 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.

3A

Carver-Atlanta 19, Pierce County 17

Pierce County might have held Carver scoreless in the second half but the defending-champion Bears could not overcome the 19-3 Carver-Atlanta halftime lead and for the second time in program history, Carver will enjoy a state championship appearance (1967). Darren Myles has coached at Carver since 2005 and in 2017, Myles coached Carver to a semifinal game (5A) but has never been to a championship game. Against Pierce, Quintavious Lockett scored all three of Carver’s touchdowns on runs of five, two and one yard. DJ Bell scored on runs of six and two yards to go with a field goal by Jonah Allen.

2A

Fitzgerald 27, Swainsboro 6

The Purple Hurricanes claimed a semifinals victory over Swainsboro to put Fitzgerald into the finals for a second-consecutive year for a chance at the program’s first state title since 1948. For Swainsboro, the loss puts an end to a prolific playoff run that saw the Tigers advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2000 when they claimed the Class 3A state title — their only finals victory in program history. The Purple Hurricanes jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first that the Tigers were unable to surpass as the Fitzgerald defense held Swainsboro’s offense to just six points all game. In the finals, Fitzgerald will be paired up against a Thomasville team that served the Purple Hurricanes their second loss of the season (15-8) back in October.

Thomasville 31, Callaway 6

Host Thomasville jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and defeated the defending state champions to advance to the finals for the first time since 1993. Malik Harper returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and Daniel Belvin added a 30-yard field goal later in the first quarter to build a 10-0 lead. Quarterback Shannen White found Jordan Williams for an 81-yard touchdown in the second quarter and added a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cole Shaw in the third quarter to push Thomasville’s lead to 24-0. Callaway found the endzone with 10:25 left in the fourth on a Deshun Coleman touchdown pass to Exavius Reed and the Cavaliers failed the two-point conversion to keep the deficit at 24-6. White iced the game with a 32-yard keeper that put the Bulldogs up 31-6 with 6:51 left. Thomasville will face Region 1 rival Fitzgerald in the finals in a rematch of its15-8 region championship-clinching victory on Oct. 22.

A Private

Prince Avenue Christian 38, Fellowship Christian 28

The Wolverines advanced to the finals for a chance at the program’s second-consecutive state title with their win over Fellowship Christian. Prince Avenue was quick to go up 14-0 in the first off a rushing touchdown from Mac Bradley and a 32-yard passing touchdown from Aaron Philo to Elijah Dewitt. Fellowship then capitalized off a muffed punt and put seven points on the board, and tied the game in the second when Nick Persiano rushed nine yards into the end zone. The Wolverines retook the lead before the half with a 4-yard touchdown rush from Dewitt. Philo then added a rushing touchdown in the third before Fellowship made it a 28-21 game heading into the fourth. On the second play of the quarter, Philo connected with Dewitt for a 59-yard touchdown to put the Wolverines out of reach of the Paladins. Prince Avenue now awaits Trinity Christian in the finals.

Trinity Christian 48, ELCA 45 2OT

No. 1 ranked Trinity Christian and ELCA were tied on six separate occasions until double overtime when quarterback David Dallas found Aaron Gates for the game-winning touchdown after ELCA settled for a field goal in its double-overtime possession. ELCA took a 7-0 into the second quarter after a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Charlie Gilliam. Dallas found Bryce Wilcox on a 10-yard touchdown pass and the teams traded touchdowns to go into the half tied 14-14. ELCA grabbed a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter and Dallas tied it up 21-21 with a 1-yard rushing score. The Chargers regained the lead with Brandon Hood’s 96-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff, but Dallas answered with a touchdown pass to Gates late in the third quarter to make it 28-28. Gilliam broke loose for a 31-yard Chargers touchdown with just 1:31 left in the game to put ELCA up 35-28 and there was a personal foul applied on the ensuing kickoff that gave Trinity Christian favorable field position. Eventually, Dallas hit Bryce Wilcox for a 40-yard touchdown with 31.2 left and forced overtime 35-35.

A Public

Irwin County 45, Wilcox County 14

Irwin County has a chance for a third-straight state championships following a romp of Wilcox County in the semifinals. Demarcus Lundy scored two rushing and two receiving touchdowns while finishing with 25 carries for 162 yards and two catches, both for touchdowns. Cody Soliday was 3-of-5 passing for 55 yards and three touchdowns while also scoring on a 10-yard run. Malachi Hadden had one touchdown reception, a 36-yarder. Cooper Yanzetich kicked an 18-yard field goal and was 5-of-6 on point after tries. Eli Roberts caught one 2-point conversion reception.

Brooks County 49, Metter 7

No. 2 ranked Brooks County (11-2) served host Metter (13-1) its first loss of the year and will make the program’s third-straight trip to the championship. The Trojans have lost their previous two finals appearances and will faceoff with Irwin County in the title game for the second-straight year. Brooks County’s last state title came in 1994 in head coach Maurice Freeman’s first season. Freeman served as the Trojans’ head coach from 1994-97 and has been back at the helm in his second stint since 2008. Brooks County opened up a 35-0 lead before Metter got on the board with a Josh Kelly touchdown run in the third quarter. The Trojans are averaging 47.9 ppg this season and have scored a school-record 622 points. Running back Omari Arnold ran in the Trojans’ first two touchdowns and Lawrence Holsendolph returned a fumble for a touchdown to push the lead to 21-0. Quarterback Jamal Sanders connected with Ja’Maurion Fountain for another Brooks County touchdown and Kamari Blakhumsee preserved the 28-0 lead with an interception late in the first half. Metter fumbled to open the second half and Sanders capitalized with his second passing touchdown to grow the lead to 35-0. Brooks County previously fell 21-13 to Irwin County on Sept. 24 and went down 27-19 in last year’s finals.