Alvin Kamara had been held relatively in check for most of the night in the Class AAAAAA championship game on Saturday, but he broke loose at just the right time for Norcross.
The senior running back scored on a 61-yard reception and a 10-yard run as the Blue Devils (15-0) rallied from a 14-3 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Lovejoy 21-14 at the Georgia Dome and claim the first state title in school history.
The championship is the third consecutive for Gwinnett County, following Brookwood in 2010 and Grayson last year. The last time a team from Gwinnett or the current Region 1 did not win at least a share of the title in the highest classification was in 1995, when Quincy Carter led Southwest DeKalb to the Class AAAA title. It was the second consecutive loss in the final for Lovejoy (13-2), which lost to Tucker 22-7 in AAAA last season.
“It just feels awesome,” Norcross coach Keith Maloof said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of how our kids fought, being down 7-0 and things …
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On the first series of Saturday’s Class AAAA championship game, Ridgeland’s Vonn Bell delivered a big hit on Sandy Creek running back Eric Swinney.
Sandy Creek did the delivering the rest of the day.
Getting four first-half touchdowns from sophomore running backs Swinney and Delvin Weems, Sandy Creek won its third state title in four years, winning 45-10 to finish 15-0 and complete the season ranked No. 1 from start to finish.
“It’s a blessing,” said Swinney, who finished with 64 yards on 10 carries. “There were people who doubted us and didn’t think we could do it, but here we are. We’re state champions.”
The Patriots outgained Ridgeland 473-272. Cole Garvin passed for 249 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Wilson, who had two catches for 81 yards. Junior receiver Demarre Kitt finished with six catches for 85 yards.
“We jumped on the board real quick and it felt good,” said Garvin. “Defense played great all night long. I think we played a great game …
AAAAA: Gainesville 49, Ware County 13
It was a record-setting and drought-ending night for Deshaun Watson and the Gainesville Red Elephants. The junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as Gainesville overwhelmed Ware County 49-13 in the Class AAAAA championship game on Friday at the Georgia Dome to claim the first state title in school history.
Gainesville (12-3), one of the state’s all-time winningest programs, was making its seventh appearance in the final, the most of any team that had never won a title. And as has been the case so often in his three years as a starter, it was Watson who made it all go. He came into the game needing 17 yards to break the state record for career passing yardage, and he got them on his third attempt with a 10-yard pass to Tray Harrison. It was part of an 8-for-8 effort on the Red Elephants’ opening drive that was capped by a 17-yard pass to Caleb Hayman for a 7-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.
Class AAA: Buford 10, St. Pius 3
The Buford defense lived up to its billing as the best in the state, putting the clamps on the the prolific St. Pius running game and coming away with a 10-3 victory in the Class AAA championship game. The win gave Buford (12-3) its fourth state championship in five years and its first since moving up in classification.
It was the school’s ninth state title and the eighth in 12 years.
“That’s the legacy these seniors have left you,” Buford coach Jess Simpson told his team after the game. “That’s what you juniors and sophomore have to live up to.” Buford limited St. Pius to 104 yards rushing, 198 yards below its average, and only 184 total yards. St. Pius had only three runs that exceeded 10 yards.
The St. Pius defense was equally rugged and allowed Buford only 178 total yards, 189 below its average. The difference in the game came down to one play early in the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-1 at the 39, Buford quarterback Taylor Mitchell pitched the ball to Dontravious …
Bryant Shirreffs ran 139 yards up the field Saturday, but seemingly 500-plus if you counted scrambling.
Repeatedly turning apparent losses into key gains, Jefferson’s senior quarterback proved slippery for defending champion Calhoun, running for three short touchdowns as Jefferson won its first Class AA championship, 31-14, at the Georgia Dome.
“He was winded after the first quarter,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said.
But after catching his breath and accepting the championship trophy with teammates on the field, Shirreffs acknowledged, “I’m going to be tired in the morning, but this is the best way to end my senior season.”
Though Jefferson was underdog against Calhoun, Shirreffs said he had an uncanny sense beforehand. Apparently knowing the Chinese calendar, he noted this being the Year of the Dragon and an ideal title chance for the Jefferson Dragons who reached championship games in 1975 and ‘77.
“I don’t know what it was, but I had a feeling …
By S. Thomas Coleman For the AJC
In this technology driven age, even a small town like Twin City – population 1,752, 3.6 square miles, and home of the Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs – has a Wikipedia page. But it fails to mention one of the biggest things the town is known for: ground-and-pound football.
ECI (13-1)let that be known again Saturday morning in the Georgia Dome. The Bulldogs rolled up 353 yards rushing against Dooly County (11-3) — in spite of the presence of 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle Montravius Adams — on the way to a 47-7 rout in the Class A public school championship game.
“We run the ball at ECI,” said senior offensive lineman Gunnar Brown. “We don’t like all that passing stuff. We have a couple of passing plays we practice, but that’s it.”
“Ain’t nothing new, that’s what we do,” said senior running back Greg Purcell, who plays the role of “Batman” in the Bulldog backfield duo that features him and fellow senior James “Robin” Brown. Purcell …
Class A Private School Final: ELCA 33, PAC 0
Upsets make for great drama, great books and movies. But the stark truth is this: 99.9 percent of the time, Goliath wins. Such was the case Friday afternoon in the Georgia Dome, as Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (12-1) finally lived up to the championship level hype that has surrounded the program for the better part of four years. The Chargers dominated an over-matched but feisty team from Prince Avenue Christian (11-2), 33-0, to claim Georgia’s first ever Class A private school football championship.
Each year since the current group of seniors was in ninth grade, when a handful of them were starters or played significant minutes, ELCA inched closer and closer to a title. They lost in the second round as freshmen at Lincoln County, lost in the quarterfinals as sophomores to eventual champion Clinch County, and though they were favored to win it all last season, the Chargers were upset in the semifinals by rival Landmark …