Quarterfinals in review, and what it all means

Buford defense came to play!

A look at the Georgia high school semifinals by analyzing the quarterfinal wins:

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Marietta 42, Mill Creek 10: Kimani Vidal rushed for 261 yards on 16 carries and scored three second-quarter touchdowns, one a 91-yarder, as Marietta took a 28-3 lead into halftime. Harrison Bailey was 19-of-25 passing for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Marietta held Chancellor Lee-Parker, the leading rusher in AAAAAAA, to 53 yards on 10 carries. 
What it means: Marietta (11-2), ranked No. 1 in preseason, is in the semifinals for the first time since 1994. Mill Creek, unranked in preseason, finishes 10-3 in coach Josh Lovelady's first season.

Parkview 35, Archer 17: Cody Brown rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, and Tyler Curtis ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Parkview had seven sacks and two interceptions. The Panthers led 21-0 at halftime. 
What it means: Parkview (12-1) has avenged a 2018 second-round loss to Archer and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2004. Archer (9-4) falls short in a bid to match its 2018 semifinal run.

Lowndes 28, Grayson 20: Lowndes stopped Grayson on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1-yard line with 52.5 seconds left. Lowndes QB Jacurri Brown rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, and his 18-yard run with 8:43 left gave Lowndes a 28-13 lead. Grayson led 404-221 in total yards, and C.J. Dixon passed for 251, but Lowndes never trailed. They key play was Josh Brown's 97-yard return of a Grayson fumble, forced by T.J. Quinn, for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. 
What it means: Lowndes, the only returning semifinalist from 2018, is 13-0 for the first time since its 2007 Class AAAAA championship team. Grayson, ranked No. 5 in preseason, is ousted by Lowndes in the quarters for the second straight season and finishes 11-2 under first-year coach Adam Carter.


North Gwinnett 32, McEachern 13: Devin Crosby rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. J.R. Martin was 10-of-18 passing for 202 yards. Josh Downs had six receptions for 137 yards. North Gwinnett took a 14-0 halftime lead, and McEachern never got within 12 points from there. 
What it means: North Gwinnett (12-1) wins its 12th straight game and advances to the semifinals for the first time since its 2017 state-championship season. McEachern, ranked No. 10 in preseason, finishes 12-1 under first-year coach Franklin Stephens.


Allatoona 24, Coffee 0: Allatoona held Coffee to six first downs, minus-7 yards rushing and 106 total yards. Allatoona rushed for 258 yards, led by sophomore Marcus Taylor's 88, though was 1-for-6 passing. The lone completion went for a 38-yard touchdown to Asante Das for a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. Jude Kelly averaged 41.6 yards on five punts, three downed inside the 20-yard line, and kicked a 42-yard field goal. 
What it means: Allatoona (10-2-1) moves to the semifinals for the first time since its 2015 state-championship season. Coffee, ranked No. 6 in preseason, finishes 9-4.

Richmond Hill 16, Valdosta 14: Tyler Coleman threw a 13-yard pass to Isaiah Allen for the winning score with 2:42 left in the third quarter. Valdosta's last possession ended with 3:26 left in the game when a fourth-and-7 pass was broken up. Richmond Hill was outgained 301-197 but forced three turnovers. Jalen Rouse, who ran for 210 yards in the second round, finished with 84 yards on 20 carries. His 59-yard kickoff returned set up Richmond Hill's winning drive. Britton Williams was 3-for-3 on field goals from 40, 22 and 36 yards. 
What it means: Richmond Hill, which opened in 1986, is in the semifinals for the first time. A 26-point underdog according to the computer Maxwell Ratings, Richmond Hill is the largest underdog to win in the quarterfinals and the only unranked team remaining in AAAAAA. Valdosta is the highest-ranked team that Richmond Hill has beaten. Ranked No. 3 in preseason, Valdosta finishes 10-3.

Dacula 56, Lee County 21: Dacula put up 522 yards rushing with a pair of 200-yard rushers - Kyle Efford (15 carries, 272 yards, one touchdowns) and Kaleb Edwards (9-219-3). Efford also played defense and had two sacks. Edwards had another 46 yards receiving. Jarrett Jenkins was 7-of-12 passing for 203 yards and two touchdowns and also scored two touchdowns. Dacula held Lee County to 11 yards rushing. 
What it means: Dacula (13-0) sets a school record for victories in a season, returns to the semifinals and validates its No. 1 ranking against the two-time defending champion. Lee County's 12-game winning streak in playoff games is over. A No. 1 seed, Lee was the champion of a region that went 0-4 in the quarterfinals. Region 1 has produced the past three state champions and five of the six finalists since 2016.

Harrison 28, Houston County 7: Marques Owens had four receptions for 128 yards and TD catches of 46 and 56 yards in the second quarter. David Roberts rushed for 118 yards on 15 carries and scored on TD runs of 23 and 5 yards in the second half. 
What it means: Harrison (13-0) is in the semifinals for the second time, first since 2000, and sets a record for victories in a season. Houston County finishes its season 7-6 and failed in its attempt to reach the semis for the first time since 1993.

Houston County linebacker Jayson Hodges (15) forces Harrison running back David Roberts (6) out of bounds in the first half of their game at Harrison High School Friday, November 29, 2019. PHOTO/Daniel Varnado

Photo: Daniel Varnado

Class AAAAA 

Jones County 49, Griffin 14: Jones County trailed 14-7 at halftime but scored five third-quarter touchdowns, starting with Maleek Wooten's 60-yard kickoff return. Hunter Costlow was 11-of-16 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jontavis Robertson, who had six receptions for 93 yards. Jones County intercepted four passes, and Dominic Bass returned one 70 yards for a touchdown. 
What it means: Jones County (12-1) is in the semifinals for the first time since 1961 under first-year coach Mike Chastain, who took Warner Robins to the finals in 2017 and 2018. Griffin, unranked in preseason, finishes 11-2 under first-year coach Kareem Reid.

Buford 24, Carrollton 21: Hayden Olsen's 28-yard field goal on the final play was Buford's first lead. The winning drive covered 69 yards on 14 plays over seven minutes, and it was extended with a fake punt when Olsen completed a 7-yard pass on a fourth-and-6 from the Buford 36. With Buford's two leading rushers out, Victor Venn stepped in and ran for 235 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries and accounted for all but 76 yards of Buford's total offense. Buford was 3-of-11 passing. 
What it means: After falling in the quarterfinals last year, Buford (12-1) is in the semifinals for the 12th time in 13 seasons, this one under first-year coach Bryant Appling. Carrollton is the first No. 1 team that Buford has beaten in its class since Calhoun in the 2009 Class AA championship game. Carrollton (12-1) is denied its first semifinal since 2013.

Warner Robins 49, Clarke Central 14: Warner Robins took a 28-0 lead by scoring on its first two possessions and Clarke Central's first two. The Demons blocked a field-goal try that Titonio Smith returned 80 yards for a touchdown, and Smith later returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. James Smith rushed for 125 yards on 12 carries, and Jahlen Rutherford rushed for 114 on nine. Jalen Addie was 3-of-8 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half. 
What it means: Warner Robins, the two-time AAAAA runner-up, is in its third consecutive semifinal at 12-1 under first-year coach Marquis Westbrook. Clarke Central, unranked in preseason, finishes 9-4 and in the quarters for the second straight season.

Starr's Mill 25, Dutchtown 24: Kalen Sims scored a two-point conversion on the final possession of overtime after scoring a touchdown, his third of the game, on a 3-yard run. Starr's Mill rushed for 293 yards and three touchdowns and attempted only two passes, completing one for 18 yards. Sims finished with 134 yards rushing on 21 carries. Ben Bodine rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries. 
What it means: Starr's Mill (10-3) improves to 7-0 all-time against Dutchtown and reaches the semifinals for the first time since 2010 and as the only unranked team remaining in AAAAA. Dutchtown (11-2) is stopped for the second straight season in the quarters.

Class AAAA 

Woodward Academy 31, Cartersville 28: Woodward Academy came from 28-14 down late in the third quarter and drove 62 yards for the winning touchdown, which scored with 1:01 left. Mike Wright threw a 13-yard TD pass to D.A. Allen for the game-winner just after converting a fourth-and-12 on a 12-yard pass to Jacorrei Turner. Woodward scored on all four second-half possessions. Wright was 29-of-50 passing for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Turner had six receptions for 122 yards. 
What it means: Woodward (13-0) reaches its first semifinal since 2015, also the last time the War Eagles were 13-0. Cartersville is the second No. 1 team that Woodward has beaten this season. Woodward gets a rematch with the first, Blessed Trinity, at home next week. Cartersville, a state finalist last season, finishes 12-1 under first-year coach Conor Foster.

Blessed Trinity 31, West Laurens 0: Blessed Trinity led 24-0 at halftime. Elijah Green rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Justice Haynes rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown. Blessed Trinity led in total yards 405-169. 
What it means: Blessed Trinity's bid for a third consecutive state title continues with a 13th straight home playoff victory. West Laurens' bid for its first semifinal in history ends with an 11-2 record.

Oconee County 17, Marist 7: Max Johnson was 18-of-24 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns, both to younger brother Jake Johnson, who had seven receptions for 112 yards. Liam Lewis intercepted two passes. Oconee held Marist to 73 yards rushing, 176 yards total. 
What it means: Oconee County (12-1) is in the semifinals for the first time since its Class AAA championship season in 1999. Marist, ranked No. 1 for four weeks late in the regular season, finishes 11-2 after reaching the semis a year ago.

Sandy Creek 41, Madison County 7: Matt Williams was 16-of-24 passing for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Ahmad Jackson had six receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Branch had three receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. Rashad Amos had 113 all-purpose yards. Sandy Creek held Madison County to 160 total yards. 
What it means: Sandy Creek (12-1) is in the semifinals for the first time since its 2012 Class AAAA championship team. Madison County (6-7) is finished after winning the first two state-playoff games in school history.

Class AAA 

Cedar Grove 36, Peach County 3: In a rematch of the 2018 state final, defending champion Cedar Grove broke the game open with two defensive touchdowns late in the second quarter. DB Jordan Grier returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown and a 13-3 lead with 4:24 left in the half, and DL Demarious Jackson returned an interception 40 yards for a 20-3 lead with 3:49 left. Chavon Wright rushed for 130 yards, more than 100 in the second half when Cedar Grove controlled the clock and held Peach County to 11 plays for minus-2 yards. LB Isaiah Ratcliff had six tackles for losses and two of Cedar Grove's seven sacks. 
What it means: Cedar Grove (11-2) advances to the semifinals for the fifth straight time, this one under first-year coach Miguel Patrick. Peach County, a state runner-up the past two seasons and ranked No. 1 every week this season, finishes 11-2.

Greater Atlanta Christian 17, Hart County 16: Jackson Hardy threw an 11-yard TD pass to Zac Mixon on third-and-goal with 5:04 left for a 17-16 lead that held up when GAC made stops at midfield on one possession and the GAC 31 on another. Tyler Curland kicked a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter that proved big. Hardy was 9-of-20 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 56 yards on six carries. Hart's offense otherwise was stifled. Hart RB Malachi Thomas had 215 yards from scrimmage. 
What it means: GAC, seeking its first state title, is 12-1 and in the semifinals for the fifth time in six seasons. Hart County (10-3) finishes six victories ahead of its 2018 total but fails in its bid for its first semifinal since 1999.

Crisp County 22, Jefferson 20: Crisp County led 22-7 at halftime and held on. Marquise Palmer rushed for 137 yards on 23 carries and had another 28 yards receiving. A.J. Lofton was 7-of-10 passing for 89 yards, rushed for 76 yards on 16 carries and forced a fumble on Jefferson's final drive at the Crisp 35, effectively ending the game. 
What it means: Crisp County (10-3) advances to its fourth semifinal, first since 2016. Jefferson (10-2) falls to 1-4 in quarterfinals since its championship season of 2012.

Jenkins 41, North Murray 14: The game was tied 7-7 at halftime, but Jenkins scored four third-quarter touchdowns. Damozzio Harris rushed for 197 yards on 17 carries. 
What it means: Jenkins (12-1) becomes the first Savannah public school to reach the semifinals since Savannah in 1969. Jenkins is in its first semifinal since 1966. North Murray (11-2) finishes with a school record for victories and its first region title and quarterfinal appearance.

Class AA 

Callaway 41, Douglass 20: Callaway trailed 14-0 in the first quarter but outscored the Astros 41-6 from there, starting with Jalin Shephard's 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Tank Bigsby rushed for 171 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries. R.J. Williams, LaDarrious Williams and Tray Stephens each had two tackles for losses. 
What it means: Still seeking its first state final, Callaway (12-1) reaches its fourth semifinal in seven seasons. Douglass (11-2) concludes its best season since the 11-2 quarterfinal team of 1995.

Brooks County 35, Metter 6: Brooks County broke open a close game with 21 points in the fourth quarter. Ni'Tavin Burns was 13-of-17 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Omari Arnold rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. 
What it means: Still seeking its first final since 1994, Brooks County reaches its fourth semifinal in seven seasons after a 1-3 start and wins for the seventh time in road playoff games since 1996, third most in the era of 32-team brackets. Metter (11-2) concludes its best season since the 11-2 quarterfinal team of 2003.

Thomasville 38, Rabun County 24: Leading just 14-10 at halftime, Thomasville outscored Rabun County 21-0 in the third quarter. Ronnie Baker was 14-of-20 passing for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Ricky Fulton rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a 54-yard reception and a 16-yard return of a punt blocked by Kevin Cochran. Rabun County QB Gunner Stockton was 16-of-24 passing for 316 yards. 
What it means: Thomasville (9-4) wins as a 17-point underdog and reaches the semifinals for the first time since 1993. Rabun County (12-1) falls in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in five seasons.

Dublin 35, Hapeville Charter 12: Dublin rushed for 388 yards and five touchdowns and attempted only one pass, which missed its mark. Marcus Adams rushed for 192 yards on 21 carries. JaQues Evans rushed for 141 on 25. Both scored two touchdowns. Dublin led in total yards 388-264. 
What it means: Dublin (12-1) is in the semifinals for the first time since 2007. Hapeville, ranked No. 2 in preseason, finishes 10-2-1.

Class A (Private) 

Wesleyan 42, Savannah Christian 16: Wesleyan led 14-10 at halftime, then scored the next three touchdowns, the first sparked by a 45-run on a fake punt by Josh Aspinwall. Griffin Caldwell rushed for 178 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, and J.C. French rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries and was 9-of-14 passing for 126 yards. 
What it means: Wesleyan (11-2) is in the semifinals for the first time since 2010. Savannah Christian (8-4) is stopped short of a second straight semifinal.

Fellowship Christian 35, Hebron Christian 28: Murphy Reeves rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. His 60-yard run with 7:55 left gave Fellowship a 35-21 lead. Hebron got within 35-28 but no closer than midfield on its final drive. Fellowship had 282 yards rushing and only 1 passing. 
What it means: Fellowship (12-0) reaches the semifinals for the first time since 2016. Hebron (8-5) completes its best season.

Holy Innocents' 28, Mount Paran Christian 0: Michael Cox gained 169 of Holy Innocents' 347 rushing yards, and Matt Davis rushed for 122 yards and was 2-of-3 passing for 62 yards and a touchdown. Mount Paran was shut out for the first time since 2012 and held to 132 total yards. Jack Felton and Landon Kardian intercepted passes. 
What it means: Holy Innocents' (12-0) sets a school record for victories and reaches the semifinals for the first time. Mount Paran (7-5) falls short in an attempt to take down a third straight ranked playoff opponent on the road.

Eagle's Landing Christian 28, Athens Academy 10: In a rematch of 2017 and 2018 state finals, four-time defending champion ELCA was in command throughout, leading 14-0 at halftime and 28-3 in the fourth quarter. Keaton Mitchell rushed for 81 yards on 20 carries. Gabe Wright was 3-of-11 passing for 137 yards. ELCA was held to a season-low 288 yards of total offense, and 88 of those came on a TD pass from Wright to Devon Dorsey (76 yards after the catch). ELCA was held to fewer than 40 points for the first time this season and second time since 2016. 
What it means: ELCA (11-1) wins its 18th consecutive playoff game and improves to 49-1 against Class A opponents since 2016. Athens Academy (11-1) remains 37-0 against non-ELCA opponents since 2017.

Class A (Public) 

Irwin County 54, Manchester 12: D.J. Lundy rushed for 176 yards and four touchdowns on seven carries. Jamorri Colson rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on five carries. Irwin led in total yards 512-147. Jyquezz Marshall returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown. 
 What it means: No. 1-ranked Irwin (11-0) is in the semifinals for the sixth time in seven seasons, still seeking its first state title since 1975. Manchester (10-3) falls in the quarters for the third time in four seasons.

Clinch County 38, Warren County 16: Clinch County led 24-0 at halftime. Tyler Morehead rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and Michael Walker had 78 yards on 10 carries. Clinch finished with 356 rushing yards, 49 passing. LB Tajuan Gordon had 11 tackles. 
What it means: Two-time defending champion Clinch County (11-1) advances to the semifinals for the fifth straight time, this one under first-year coach Don Tison Jr. Warren County (8-5) bows out with its most wins and best playoff finish since 2007.

Marion County 28, Lincoln County 21: Brandon Thomas scored on a 27-yard run with 9:07 left to break a 21-21 tie, and Lincoln County got no closer than the Marion County 34-yard line from there. Marion had led 21-7 at halftime. Trice McCannon rushed for 165 yards on 22 carries and was 5-of-13 passing for 90 yards. Thomas rushed for 83 yards and caught a 23-yard pass. Dayterious Chinn and Kendrick Hawkins had 14 tackles each. 
What it means: Marion County (10-2) becomes the only unranked team to make a Class A semifinal and wins its seventh straight game after a 43-14 loss to Region 4-A rival Manchester. Marion is in the semifinals for the fourth time since its 2013 state title. Lincoln County (9-3) concludes its most successful season since former coach Larry Campbell's retirement in 2013.

Pelham 31, Mitchell County 20: Pelham took a 17-0 lead by the second quarter and never trailed in a rematch of a regular-season game that it lost. Kendrick Patterson rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and was 15-of-29 passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jeremiah Stewart. Patterson also intercepted a pass. Reggie Walker intercepted two and recovered a fumble. Pelham held Mitchell County to 138 total yards. 
What it means: Pelham (11-1) avenges its only defeat and reaches the semifinals for the second straight season in pursuit of its first state title. Mitchell County (10-2) fails in its bid to reach its first semifinal since the 1992 state title.

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