Special teams made the difference for the Sandy Creek as the Patriots dethroned the defending Class AAAA champion Tucker 17-14 in a second-round playoff matchup.
Down 7-0 at the half, Sandy Creek (11-1) kicked off to start the third quarter, but a Tucker fumble was recovered in the end zone by the Patriots’ Matt Overstreet for the tying score just six seconds into the second half.
On the next possession, Tucker (10-2) was forced to punt to Sandy Creek’s Bruce Dukes, who returned it 74 yards for a touchdown to give the home team the lead.
The game was tied at 14 midway through the fourth quarter when Tucker faced a 4th-and-6 on the Sandy Creek 40, but the snap sailed over the punter’s head back to the Tucker 25. That set up Zach Lopez’ 23-yard field goal with 2:44 to play.
The Tigers’ final chance to score ended when a fourth-down pass from the Patriots’ 29 fell incomplete with 27 seconds left. Norman Hayes threw a pair of touchdown passes for Tucker.
Apalachee 36, Marist 35 (OT): Christian Hoard scored on a 1-yard run, then ran in the two-point conversion to give the Wildcats an upset win over Marist to advance to the AAAA football quarterfinals.
Hoard's score capped a wild affair that saw 29 points scored in a 5-minute span in the third quarter. Marist (9-3) built a 14-0 lead on a 32-yard run by Andy Perez and a 7-yard score by Patrick Sullivan, but Hoard scored with 27 seconds left in the half to make it a seven-point game at the break. Sullivan added touchdown runs of 71 and 17 yards in the third, but Apalachee (12-0) countered with a 1-yard run by Hoard and a 56-yard run by John Ansley, then tied the game with an 11-yard run by Ansley with 11:34 left.
Marist took a 35-28 lead in overtime on a 6-yard run by Matt Connor, but Hoard scored on Apalachee's overtime possession, and the Wildcats went for the win on Hoard's conversion run.
Clarke Central 19, Southwest DeKalb 17: Derrick Smalls’ 42-yard interception return for a touchdown with 36 seconds remaining sealed Clarke Central’s upset of the second-ranked Panthers in a Class AAAA second round match-up.
The Gladiators jumped out to a 12-0 first-quarter lead on touchdowns from Quenshaun Watson and Dimitri Holmes. Missed opportunities doomed Southwest DeKalb as two Panthers receivers dropped sure touchdown passes in the first half.
Southwest DeKalb’s star running back Ken Malcome rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown in the first half but suffered a shoulder injury late in the second quarter and did not return.
St. Pius 17 North Hall 3: St. Pius’ option offense devoured more than 17 minutes of clock in the second half as the Golden Lions defeated North Hall to advance to the quarterfinals of the AAA playoffs.
St. Pius (12-0) controlled the ball for more than nine minutes in the third quarter, with drives resulting in a 37-yard Joey Gargiulo field goal and a Cole Moon 2-yard touchdown run, Moon’s second touchdown of the night. Moon finished with 117 yards rushing on 26 carries. Teammate George Kennedy rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries. St. Pius’ defense held the visiting Trojans to 34 total yards in the second half.
Peachtree Ridge 21, Brookwood 6: With a dominating running game, Peachtree Ridge scored all of its touchdowns on the ground to advance to the quarterfinals of the AAAAA playoffs.
Brandon Stanley scored on runs of 2 and 14 yards in the first half and ended with 54 yards on 16 carries. Brad Roby accounted for 69 of the Lions 87 yards in their second scoring drive with a 42-yard pass play and a 27-yard run.
Brookwood scored first with Zeke Brown scooping up a Lions fumble and returning it 51 yards for the Broncos’ only score. The Broncos failed to capitalize on a Lions’ gift at their 23-yard line in the fourth quarter after bad snap on a Peachtree Ridge punt attempt.
After the Broncos lost the ball on downs, Peachtree Ridge went 80 yards in six plays on the back of Chris Sawdey (13 carries, 68 yards) and quarterback Nick Lombardo, who ran 22 yards for a touchdown to put the game away.
Colquitt County 22, Stephenson 21: Rich Tyndall kicked a 22-yard field goal with 2:28 left to lift Colquitt County (10-2) to an upset of fifth-ranked Stephenson (11-1) in a Class AAAAA second-round game at Hallford Stadium.
Stephenson had taken a 21-19 lead with 4:28 left on Denzel Hartley’s 19-yard run at the end of an 85-yard drive. But Colquitt’s Quin Roberson returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards to the Stephenson 9 to set up the winning kick. Roberson returned another kickoff 69 yards that set up Tyndall’s other field goal, a 33-yarder. He also scored a touchdown.
Interceptions turned the game in Colquitt’s favor. Stephenson led 7-0 on Raymond Sanders’ 16-yard run in the first quarter and generally controlled the first half until Colquitt’s William McCrary returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown. That made it 7-7 at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Stephenson led 14-13 when Amel Magwood made an interception at the Stephenson 26.. Pressure on Stephenson quarterback Jordan Tarver prompted both mistakes.
The second interception resulted in Roberson’s 2-yard touchdown run that gave Colquitt its first lead, 19-14. Stephenson got two more possessions after Tyndall’s winning field goal but did not threaten.
Wesleyan 34, Bowdon 28 (OT): Reigning Class A state champion Wesleyan extended its winning steak to 24 games, though Bowdon battled the Wolves to the end in a second-round playoff game. Wesleyan pushed out to a 28-13 lead but the Red Devils came back and pulled within two with time running out on a 3-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion came on a pass before Bowdon had the first possession in OT and missed a short field goal. Then on third down, Wolves quarterback Connor Welton hit Harrison Cheeley for the winning score. Tailback Kyle Karempelis had three scores on runs for Wesleyan. The last time the Wolves lost was the third game of the 2008 season when they were beaten 7-6 by Holy Innocents.
I.J. Rosenberg, Score Atlanta
Holy Innocents 21, Bremen 0: The Golden Bears limited visiting Bremen to 101 total yards and coasted in the second round of the Class A playoffs after building a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
Will Allen directed Holy Innocents (11-1) to touchdowns on three of the four series he was in at quarterback. He accounted for 42 yards on the opening series, which ended on a 1-yard run by Peter Allen, Will’s brother.
A 15-yard pass from Will Allen to Chase Brown capped a 63-yard drive in the second period, and Allen directed a 78-yard march that consisted of 14 straight running plays, with Wills Aitkens scoring from the 5. The drive, which started the second half, consumed more than seven minutes.
Bremen (7-5) never advanced past the Holy Innocents 39, with its longest play of the night a 12-yard run on a fake punt.
Lovett 58, East Jackson 0: Balanced offense coupled with a dominating defense enabled Lovett to cruise to victory in its Class AA second-round playoff matchup with East Jackson.
Taylor Mack’s 11-yard touchdown run, followed by two rushing touchdowns from Zach Boden (eight carries, 148 yards) gave the Lions a 21-0 first-quarter lead. Once the second period began, the Lovett passing game moved to the forefront as quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Max Williams.
The Lions defense was equally flawless. Ahead 38-0 at halftime, Lovett allowed just 87 yards of total offense and forced three interceptions in the second half to preserve the shutout.
Lovett advances to the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.