SUWANEE - Junior quarterback Brent McDonald passed for 216 yards and two touchdowns Friday night to lead Collins Hill to a 28-3 victory over visiting South Forsyth.
The victory solidified a playoff slot for Collins Hill (7-3 overall, 6-2 region), which will be the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAAA and travel to take on Roswell, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAAAA.
"We know we'll be on the road, but that's okay," said Sherrill. "We were road warriors in the playoffs in 1999, 2000 and 2001. We've won a lot of playoff games as the road team."
Although never seriously threatened, Sherrill did agree that the game turned in the Eagles' favor late in the first half.
Nursing a 14-3 lead and with 1:32 remaining in the second quarter, Collins Hill was forced to punt from deep in its own territory after a quick three-and-out series. Eagles' punter Kurt Diel hit one off the side of his foot and South Forsyth was in business at the Collins Hill 32-yard line.
However, on the second play following the change of possession, senior defensive back Chris Wellborn intercepted a pass from the War Eagles' Joe Babrick to stop the threat. Collins Hill then covered 59 yards in just three plays, using a 9-yard rush from Craig Jackson to get to midfield and then two McDonald-to-Diel passes to find the end zone and cover the final 50 yards.
The first hook-up went for 30 yards and the second covered the remaining 20 as the Eagles quickly turned the momentum of the game and took the 21-3 halftime lead.
"That interception was a huge play," said Sherrill. "We've played great defense all year. It just seems like when people would get something on us, we'd find a way to get a turnover."
McDonald was efficient all night, and if not for some drops from his receivers, would have had an even more impressive stat line. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to his TD pass to Diel, he also hit Lawrence Egolum for a 53-yard scoring strike early in the third quarter that effectively ended the contest.
"He showed great poise in the pocket all night," said Sherrill of his quarterback. "He has gotten better with each and every game, which is what we preach to everyone."
Diel was McDonald's favorite target all night, hauling in seven passes for 147 yards and a score. Jackson had a workman-like night, rushing 17 times for 72 yards, which included scoring runs of 10 and 1 yard.
Wellborn, who had another interception early in the fourth quarter, paced the Collins Hill defensive effort that allowed South Forsyth just 171 total yards, including 34 rushing yards on 30 carries.
Despite emptying the bench in the second half, Collins Hill still finished the game with 301 yards of total offense.
Drake scores four TDs in Central win By Patrick Garbin
LAWRENCEVILLE - Diante Drake led a potent rushing attack for Central Gwinnett as the Black Knights defeated Shiloh 42-7 on Friday night.
Drake rushed for 141 yards on 27 carries and four touchdowns as Central ended the regular season with an 8-2 overall record, including 6-1 in Region 8-AAAAA.
Early in the game, Central's Kyandre Banks recovered a Shiloh fumble at the Generals' 44-yard line. On the next play, Logan Hunt lofted a long touchdown pass to Rolando Dyer for the game's first score. Devin Sabina's PAT would be his first of six successful attempts.
Later in the opening quarter, the Black Knights continued a drive with a 28-yard run by Jonathan Massaquoi on a fake punt. A 2-yard touchdown run by Drake and Sabina's PAT gave Central a 14-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Hunt rushed for a 13-yard score. The senior quarterback was just 1 of 6 passing but rushed for 37 yards on eight carries. He was one of four Black Knights to rush for at least 35 yards as Central's offense grinded out more than 300 yards rushing.
"This was our best offensive showing of the season," Central head coach Bradley Warren said. "We ran really well, the offensive line played great and we jelled as an offense."
Soon after Hunt's scoring run, Shiloh (2-8, 1-6) scored its lone touchdown on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Ira Johnson to Ernst Brun. Brun also kicked the Generals' PAT and led all receivers with 76 receiving yards.
Following an interception by Central's Manny Rodriguez in the third quarter, Drake scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard dive. Later in the quarter, Drake ran around right end for two yards and another score as Central led comfortably 35-7 heading into the final period.
With less than three minutes remaining in the game, Drake scored his fourth and final touchdown on a 7-yard run. With his fine performance against the Generals, Drake rushed for more than 800 yards in the regular season and scored a remarkable 17 rushing touchdowns.
The victory gave Central its best regular-season finish since 1994 and came following a 21-0 loss to Brookwood last week.
"We had a couple of letdowns this season," Warren said. "But after every loss this team always plays really well, including tonight."
Falcons advance with win By Steve Joyner
DACULA - Working for the most part without its best running back due to injury, eighth-ranked Dacula turned to the airways en route to a 42-3 thumping of Rockdale County in a Region 8-AAAA play-in game at Barron Field Friday night.
Dacula hosts Sequoyah next week in the first round of the state playoffs.
Senior Cole Brodie, hampered by injuries most of the season, carried just two times in very limited playing time. So Dacula found a pass-and-catch combination in a pair of seniors. Quarterback Kyle White and wide receiver Cameron Kenney kick-started the offense as Dacula earned a trip into the state playoffs next week.
Leading 14-3 late in the first half, Dacula (9-1 overall, 6-1 Division A) went on a terrific 11-play, 66-yard drive. Kenney tipped a pass across the middle from White into the air, snagged it, broke a pair of tackles and hit the corner of the end zone as time expired.
Dacula took that 21-3 momentum-building halftime lead and put away Rockdale County in the second half with a time-consuming running attack and stifling defense. Two Cisco Barry touchdown runs and a Cody Davis 18-yard run sealed the deal for Dacula, while the Falcons' defense totally shut down Rockdale County in the second half. The Falcons' defense allowed just 41 yards of total offense on 12 plays in the final 24 minutes.
"We felt like we needed to be able to run the ball better in the second half than we did in the first," Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof said. "We were lucky to be up 21-3 at the half. But our defense played great and got us some turnovers and we turned them into points. Then we put together a really good drive right at the end of the half - a big-league drive that finished with a great throw, catch and run."
Dacula struck with the first of two White-to-Kenney TDs late in the first quarter - a 16-yard scoring toss after the Dacula defense forced a botched punt for a loss of 12 yards. Then Brodie scored his only TD of the night from eight yards out following after the Falcons' defense forced a Bulldogs' fumble at the Rockdale County 15.
Wesleyan routs Walker to make postseason for seventh straight time
By Ben Beitzel
MARIETTA - Playoff football began a week early for Wesleyan, which entered Friday's season finale at Walker needing to win to earn its seventh-straight berth in the state AA playoffs.
And with a 21-0 dominating win over Walker (6-4, 4-4 Region 6-AA), the Wolves (6-4, 5-3) get to play at least one more game when they travel to Calhoun next week for a first-round matchup.
"Seven years in a row. It is a great feeling and it is where we expect to be," Wesleyan head coach Frank Pridgen said. "We want to stay here a while, at least a couple of weeks."
If the Wolves keep playing like they did Friday, Pridgen may get his wish.
Despite scoring 21 points against the Wolverines, it was the Wesleyan defense that stole the show. The Wolves defense sacked Walker quarterback Taylor Cook 12 times and only allowed 79 yards of total offense in the shutout. Michael Kress put a stamp on the defensive effort with three consecutive sacks on Walkers' final drive.
"We dominated the line of scrimmage," Pridgen said. "We had a great blitz package in the works and our secondary was smothering.
"We won this game with defense and heart."
Wesleyan began the game as if it the playoffs had started, scoring on its first two possessions and limiting the Walker offense to 33 first half yards, including forcing a turnover off of a fumble.
The Wolves opened the game with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that included a 13-yard completion from Andrew Donovan to JoJo Catrini and was punctuated by a 44-yard scamper from Nick Sissine. Sissine ended the game carrying the ball 14 times for 124 yards and a touchdown, while catching three passes for 21 yards.
"It wasn't me it was my team," Sissine said. "It was my line, it was my quarterback, it was my fullback."
Following the kickoff, Walker lost six yards in three plays before punting the ball back to Wesleyan, giving the Wolves the ball on the Walker 48.
It took just six plays and 2:17 for Wesleyan to take a 14-0 lead. On the drive, Donovan completed 3 of 4 passes for 37 yards, but it was his seven-yard run on a bobbled snap that led to the game's second score. The play came one play after Donovan was injured scrambling and back-up QB Ian Davis completed his one pass to Sissine for seven yards and a first down.
The defense took over from there, continuing to shut down everything Walker tried, including a stop on a fourth-and-1 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
After handing the offense the ball on the Walker 45, the ball went back into the hands of Sissine who rattled off runs of 21, 4 and 18 before senior quarterback Donovan rolled out and found Hampton Wilson for a 7-yard touchdown.
"It sealed the game, we felt comfortable after that," Pridgen said of the fourth quarter touchdown.
The touchdown also capped of a stellar performance for Donovan who completed 13 of 21 passes for 128 yards and the TD that secured another playoff berth.
"Great line, great fans, great coaches," Sissine said. "Everyone was great. It is an amazing feeling."
Apalachee earns first postseason berth By Tom Marine
WATKINSVILLE - The road to the Class AAA state playoffs went through Oconee County Friday night, however only Apalachee will be making the trip.
Sparked by a steady and balanced offensive attack, the Wildcats defeated the Warriors 35-14 and secured the fourth and final playoff spot in Region 8-AAA.
"This is one of those wins that only comes around once in a while for a program," Apalachee head coach Shane Davis said. "It can push your program to another level."
Quarterback Korey Chambers helped push the Wildcats by taking his own game to another level. The senior tallied nearly 300 yards of total offense, threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score. But Chambers' real value came from his management of Apalachee's offense.
"(Chambers) is irreplaceable. He's one of the best I have ever coached," Davis said. "He plays like that every Friday night, and I knew he would have good game tonight. He's just a solid football player."
The season just keeps getting better for Apalachee. One week after breaking the school record for most wins in a season, the Wildcats (6-4, 3-3) clinched their first-ever playoff birth.
"It feels so good because we worked so hard this whole time," Chambers said. "We knew we were going to make the playoffs. We always talked about week 11 and now we're here. We're going to the playoffs."
Although Apalachee won by a comfortable margin, the game was deadlocked heading into the second half.
With the score tied 14-14 and the ball on its own side of the field, the Warriors were denied on their fourth-and-1 attempt. On the following play, Wildcat running back Ryan Danilla ran 40 yards for a touchdown.
The Warriors never recovered.
Oconee remained competitive largely because of its seniors. Running back Chris Brown ran for more than 120 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Chad Seawright also had a strong performance with eight receptions for 95 yards.
South ends season on positive note, rolls over Mustangs By Randy Cox
NORCROSS - Showing its dominance on offense and defense, South Gwinnett ended its football season here Friday night by annihilating winless Meadowcreek 50-0. The Comets' defense scored touchdowns on two blocked punts in a game which had its share, and more, of penalties.
South finishes its season at 3-7, while the Mustangs end up 0-10, stretching their winless streak to 32 games.
"We're real proud of our team tonight, " said South head coach John Small. "We had a great game ... Our kids never quit. It's great to have a good win like this. I couldn't be any prouder of them."
South Gwinnett started off scoring early in the Region 8-AAAAA clash as sophomore kick returner Jamell Hamler scampered for an 88-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff. The two-point conversion failed, and the Comets took an early 6-0 lead.
This ended the scoring in the first quarter, but South came back in the second period with a vengeance.
With 10:14 left in the second quarter, Antione Privott scored his first of two touchdowns on a nine-yard scamper for the Comets. Privott hit paydirt again a little later in the same period, this time on a 2-yard plunge. This touchdown was set up by a 56-yard run by Chris Doster, who took the ball all the way down to the Mustangs' 14.
Later, Meadowcreek quarterback Jamelle Clarke's pass was intercepted by South's Travis Adcock, who raced it down to the Mustangs' 31. A few plays later, Brandon Hamilton kicked a 46-yard field goal with 3:57 left in the second period to give the Comets a 21-0 halftime lead.
South Gwinnett scored 29 points in the third quarter, as Doster scampered for a 1-yard touchdown after James Thorton recovered an onside kick for the Comets. QB David Johaningmeier added the two-point conversion.
Johaningmeier fired a 3-yard TD pass to Sean Christy with 3:51 left in the quarter.
Next came the heroics of South's defensive team: Jordan Sherman ran in a 5-yard TD with 2:45 left after the Comets blocked a punt by Melkin Avelar. With only 1:20 left, Taylor Schindler did likewise, running for a 20-yard TD following another blocked punt.
After so much scoring earlier, the fourth quarter went scoreless.