BUFORD - Rockmart's record was better than Buford's typical first-round foes of the past.
However, the final score on Friday night was pretty much what the host Wolves are used to in the opening game of the Class AA state playoffs. And then some.
Buford rolled to a huge halftime lead over Rockmart and coasted into the second round with a 52-0 victory, advancing to host Manchester next Friday.
"We've been winning and we won last week (against Lovett), that was a big win, but we haven't felt like we were really playing at the tempo and speed we were playing at in the middle of the year," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "Part of that was the competition we were playing. We just talked to them all week about playing fast and running and hitting. Everybody believed in that and that's important this time of the year."
It looked like Rockmart (8-3) would put up a fight briefly after forcing a three-and-out on Buford's first offensive series. But the rest of the first half was all Wolves as they ran their record to 11-0.
The first-half numbers were hugely in the hosts' favor, with a 219-7 edge in total yards. Rockmart had just one first down in the opening two quarters, and was pushed back for minus-29 yards rushing. Brandon McEachern had a pair of first-half sacks and Dallas Lee contributed a sack and a tackle for a loss.
Twoey Hosch led the offense with three first-half touchdown passes and Quentin Cantrell ran for two more.
The total game numbers didn't get much better for Rockmart - 22 total yards, three first downs and minus-36 rushing yards.
"It's fun to play people like this who have good skill folks," Simpson said of Rockmart. "Our kids get to run around and play in space. It was a good game for us."
Cody Vining's interception put Buford in position for its first score.
Taking over at the 10-yard line, the Wolves scored on an 11-yard TD pass from Hosch to Izaan Cross, who bulldozed a Rockmart defender at the 2-yard line and powered his way into the end zone.
Cantrell then scored on a 12-yard run and added a 36-yard TD run with 6:55 left in the second quarter for a 21-0 lead. His second TD was set up by a 14-yard run on a fake punt by Trey Hunsucker.
Hosch extended the lead with a 56-yard TD strike to Chase Burnette for a 28-0 lead. Moments later, a 41-yard punt return by David Hendrix gave Buford the ball at the Rockmart 13-yard line and on the next play, Hosch found Hendrix for a 13-yard TD pass.
A late fumble recovery by Hunsucker set up the half's final score, a 32-yard Lawson McGlon field goal. Demetris Murray opened the second half with a 34-yard TD run to make it 45-0, officially ending the night for Buford's starters. The reserves chipped in a late TD in the fourth quarter as Cody Getz had a nice 5-yard scoring run.
Spartans grind out win over Chattooga By Randy Cox
NORCROSS - Greater Atlanta Christian sent Chattooga packing back to the farthest part of northwest Georgia on Friday night, as the Spartans blanked the Indians 35-0 in the first round of the Class AA state football playoffs.
Head coach Jimmy Chupp's team now advances to the second round to play at Washington-Wilkes, which defeated Callaway.
"It's always good to win in the first round of the playoffs," Chupp said after the game. "We struggled and made some mental errors, but we've got a good football team here."
GAC led the battle of the stats, as the Spartans ran for 179 yards to 146 for the Indians. The home team's Trey Harber, the workhorse of the night, had 93 yards, Lee Chapple had 44 and Khiry Battle had 26. GAC had 129 yards passing on 11 of 17 attempts, while Chattooga managed only 52 yards in the air.
GAC had three turnovers, while the Indians had four in a game which saw numerous personal foul and facemask penalties.
The Spartans scored first on a one-yard TD in the first quarter, as senior running back William Shuford scampered across the goal with 5:29 left. Kicker Landon Bennett kicked his first of five extra points to give GAC a 7-0 lead.
After Chattooga missed an 18-yard field goal, the Spartans hit paydirt again, this time in the second quarter on a 3-yard TD by Battle, as GAC led 14-0 at halftime. Chapple's 20-yard run took the ball down to the Chattooga 43, setting up the Spartan drive.
Following a scoreless third quarter, GAC poured it on, posting 21 points in the fourth. Harber continued the GAC rout with 9:46 left in the game on a 17-yard scamper. On the heels of this play, Chapple found Justin Schneider open on an electrifying 26-yard touchdown pass play with only 7:20 left.
But the Spartans weren't through. Sophomore Matt Cape found the end zone with 4:43 left on a 10-yard TD run with 4:43 left to play, ending the scoring for the night.
"We've got to keep working hard," Chupp told his charges in the post-game huddle. "We've got some people bunged up, but it's good to be 10-1.
"We were well-prepared for this game. The running backs played well, and the defense stopped them when we had to."
Wolves put up good fight, fall to Calhoun By Mark Blumen
CALHOUN - Wesleyan put a scare into fifth-ranked Calhoun on Friday night before falling 31-21 in a first-round shootout in the Class AA state playoffs.
The Wolves, the fourth seed from Region 8-AA, rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit for two-third quarter touchdowns and a brief 21-17 lead on the 7-AA champion Yellow Jackets. But Calhoun's Adam Urbano returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a TD, a severe blow to Wesleyan's momentum.
Calhoun (10-1) advances to the second round while Wesleyan ends its first season under head coach Franklin Pridgen with a 6-5 record.
"Although we were a No. 4 seed, we didn't just come up here to earn respect, we wanted to win the ball game," Pridgen said. "We felt we had a great game plan and we were very disappointed that we lost. I thought we played our best game of the year, but I have to tip my hat to Coach (Hal) Lamb and Calhoun. They've got an excellent ball team.
"We've played them two times here in the past three years and I don't want to come back. We expect Calhoun to go far. The 12 seniors on this team, they did a great job. They had a great season."
Wesleyan quarterback Andrew Donovan was 24-for-51 passing for 327 yards and two TDs, and JoJo Catrini had three catches for 107 yards and a score. The two connected for an 88-yard, first-quarter TD that was the Wolves' only score of the half.
The Wolves scored on both of their third-quarter possessions, first on a 38-yard TD pass from Donovan to Matt Karempelis. Then, after a Chris Alexander fumble recovery, Karempelis' 1-yard run put Wesleyan ahead.
But the lead was short-lived because of the long kickoff return by Urbano, who also rushed for 116 yards on 12 carries. Eric Carter had 15 rushes for 90 yards for the Yellow Jackets, who also got a 9-for-14 passing game for 120 yards and two TDs from Tre Lamb.
Calhoun sealed the win early in the fourth quarter when Lamb hit Chandler Rierson for a 21-yard TD pass, a toss that went through the hands of a Wesleyan defender and into Rierson's grasp.
Grady runs away from Apalachee in 2nd half By Jay Squillace
ATLANTA - The Apalachee Wildcats' first-ever playoff game was every bit as exciting as the school expected for the first half on Friday night at Grady.
However, a second-half offensive outburst by Grady showed Apalachee that playoff losses hurt even more than expected. Three third-quarter touchdowns by the Grey Knights' Dexter Barnett turned the Wildcats' three-point halftime lead into a 15-point deficit and an eventual 39-16 defeat in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
"We had a great great year and came a long long way," Apalachee head coach Shane Davis said. "This will hurt tonight, but the sun will come up tomorrow. Eventually you all will look back on this as a year of a lot of firsts."
Barnett was essentially unstoppable. He amassed 270 total yards and Grady's first five touchdowns. He carried the ball 16 times for 168 yards and caught another three balls for 102 yards. Quarterback Simeon Kelley threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, and ran in the game's final score. He also ran in a two-point conversion for good measure.
The Wildcats (6-5) got off to a blazing start, scoring on the opening drive on the game on a pass from Korey Chambers to Connor Ryan from 15 yards out. A bad snap by Grady (9-2) on a punt led to a safety and a two-point lead. After Grady took the lead back late in the half, Apalachee used a fake punt to keep a drive alive and Chambers' touchdown pass to Randy Rutledge with four seconds left to take the halftime lead.
The lead was short lived as Barnett took the game over scoring those three touchdowns in just the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
Apalachee couldn't find its rhythm in the passing game after the first quarter. Chambers completed seven of his first eight passes, but just five of his last 22 including two interceptions by Grady's Rico Robinson.
Chambers did end up with 165 yards passing.
Etowah gets first playoff win, knocks off Parkview Roseanna Smith
WOODSTOCK - Call it a dogfight.
Call it a vicious chess match.
But it was clearly the state playoffs and a most-anticipated game in the opening round gave spectators every penny of drama.
In the end, newcomer Etowah slayed perennial powerhouse Parkview, 26-21. The Eagles made history, recording their first-ever playoff victory, and second all-time win in the history of the program against Parkview. Etowah last defeated Parkview in Lilburn in a regular-season game in October, 1977.
Parkview coach Cecil Flowe was bittersweet after the tumultuous loss.
"It's just one of those nights," Flowe said. "I'm proud of my kids. It was right down to the wire.
"It hurts but it's something to build on."
The Panthers engaged in a back-and-forth duel with Etowah in the first half, exchanging touchdowns and amping up statistics. Etowah started things off with a 9:01, 18-play touchdown drive, but Parkview swept downfield before being stopped on the 2-yard line after Etowah's Jordan Padgett batted down a pass intended for Treymayne Graham.
Graham had a few magical moments in the first half, however, scoring the TD on the Panthers' first drive and hauling in another, this time an 11-yard rush in which he was nearly untouched. Quarterback Clayton Wilkin had many bright spots, finding J.D. Ulloa on two passes, the first a wide-open 36-yard hook-up.
Etowah took a first-half lead, 17-14, after Mack Sissine caught a 20-yard TD pass from quarterback Trey Wilborn, who was 8 of 8 before halftime.
Wilborn and Ryan Byrne were the leaders Etowah needed in the third quarter. Wilborn rushed for 39 yards on three carries on a four play-touchdown drive. Running back Buster Skrine did the rest, running in the final 13 yards to put the Eagles up, 24-21. Skrine finished with 72 yards on 19 carries.
Wilborn did not practice on Wednesday because of the flu.
"I'm shocked," said Wilborn, who ended with 8 completions for 91 yards and 109 rushing yards. "No one thought we could do this. ... Maybe I need to get the flu more often."
Byrne handled the defensive aspect, sacking Panthers quarterback Wilkin twice on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter, forcing punts on both Parkview drives. The Etowah defense clamped down in the closing 12 minutes, forcing three punts and securing a safety in the closing 1:14.
With the win, first-year head coach Bill Stewart, a former assistant for Flowe at Parkview, created a name for his Etowah program.
"I hated it," Stewart said about the game between hugs and congratulations from eager fans. "I love those guys. We're best friends. I'm happy we won, because I'd much rather have the victory."
Comeback comes up short for Collins Hill By Brett Cohrs
ROSWELL - What started out as a woodshed beating by Roswell turned into a 12-round prize fight as Collins Hill battled back from a 24-0 first-half deficit before losing 31-28 in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs Friday night.
Try as they did in the second half, the Eagles (7-4) could not overcome their first-half mistakes.
"This wasn't what we wanted or expected. We expected to play next week," said Collins Hill head coach Larry Sherrill.
"Penalties and turnovers are going to determine the outcome of a game, and we just turned the ball over too much against a good team. Roswell did a great job. They capitalized on every opportunity we gave them."
After the intermission, Collins Hill slowly crept back into the game. James Lewis scored the Eagles' first TD on an 18-yard run.
Collins Hill then added three more TDs as quarterback Brent McDonald connected with Kurt Diel from 5 and 42 yards out. He also found receiver Michael Young for a 7-yard TD to give Collins Hill 28 second-half points. McDonald ended the night 11 of 27 for 188 yards - 147 of which were in the fourth quarter. Diel caught 7 of the passes for 140 yards.
Despite the comeback efforts, a controversial 54-yard third quarter TD run by Roswell running back Alex Daniel gave the Hornets 31 points and enough cushion to hang on for the win. Daniel took the handoff and ran wide left before reversing field. The Eagles appeared to have knocked him down behind the line of scrimmage, but no whistle blew and Daniel made his way down the opposite sideline for the long score.
The officials ruled that Daniel landed on a Collins Hill player; therefore, he was not down and the touchdown stood.
The Eagles had actually had a chance late in the game to pull off the win. After their final score with 3:57 left in the game, Chris Wellborn recovered an onside kick to give the Eagles the ball right back. They failed to convert a first down, turning the ball over on downs after McDonald was sacked on fourth down.
"Brent and Kurt got hot at the end of the game, and we gave ourselves a chance. I'm very proud of the players," Sherrill said.
A Jim Broadway field goal on Roswell's first drive gave the hosts an early lead. But the misery that was Collins Hill's first half was just beginning.
On the Eagles' first possession, the punter Diel had to go down on one knee to handle a low snap, resulting in a 14-yard loss and a turnover on downs. Six plays later, Daniel (169 yards on 27 carries) dove over the line for a one-yard touchdown.
Collins Hill could only hold onto the ball for two plays on the ensuing possession, losing a fumble on its own 20-yard line. This time, the Hornets wasted no time, as quarterback Dustin Taliaferro connected with Will Neclerio for a 25-yard TD and a 17-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Eagles continued their offensive struggles, only gaining 18 yards on 11 plays in the first half. Another one-play possession ended in a fumble. This time, Collins Hill held the Hornets, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Hornets new life that they used to score their third touchdown of the half, sending the game into halftime in what appeared a Roswell rout.