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GFL completes another successful year

BUFORD - The announcer at Buford's Tom Riden Stadium started last Saturday with the popular Monday Night Football line, "Are you ready for some football?"

That's just what Gwinnett Football League players and fans got. Nine games and 16 hours of it.

The county's youth championship games started at 8 a.m. and ended at 11:55 p.m., when North Gwinnett won a triple-overtime, eighth-grade thriller with Mill Creek just five minutes before Sunday.

The following is a recap of last weekend's GFL title games:

6-year-oldsDacula North 13, Dacula South 7

Dacula North took an early lead on Jalen Perry's 13-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but Dacula South answered back to take a 7-6 lead on Jack Jackson's 49-yard TD and Jaeiv Khan's conversion.

With South still leading, North recovered a fumble at the South 31-yard line and from there Mekhail Behtea broke loose for a 31-yard touchdown with 3:10 left in the half.

An exciting game ended when Jackson broke free for a 45-yard run, but Perry made a game-saving tackle. With fourth down inside the one-foot line and two seconds left in the game came, Lin Hilbert tackled the quarterback as time ran out to seal the win.

7-year-olds Dacula North 25, Shiloh North 6

Dacula defeated Shiloh 25-6, although the Generals led early on Nathan Tinch Jr.'s 52-yard TD run.

From there, it was all Dacula. Jalen Hayes took the ensuring kickoff for an apparent 51-yard touchdown, but a penalty negated the score. But moments later, Tre McMillan scored on an 18-yard run to tie the score. Hunter Cain recovered an onside kick and McMillan again finished the scoring with a 42-yard run with 2:10 left in the first quarter. Hayes scored from 40 yards out and Miles Long added a run for a 19-6 lead just before the half. McMillan scored on a 12-yard run for the final TD in the third.

8-year-olds Peachtree Ridge North 24, North Gwinnett North 0

Peachtree Ridge (12-0) used the running and passing of Davis Mills to shut out North Gwinnett 24-0. Mills scored three touchdowns, including an interception for a touchdown. Mills had a 33-yard run in the first period and a 37-yard run in the second quarter for a 12-0 lead. Then, Mills intercepted a pass and took it 48 yards for a TD just before halftime. Mills also hit Bryan Brinson for a 42-yard touchdown in the third.

9-year-olds Dacula North 20, North Gwinnett South 19 (OT)

Dacula rallied in overtime to win a 20-19 thriller over North. Dylan Singleton started the scoring for the Falcons with a 4-yard TD in the first period. In the second half, Dacula's Camerion Jones had a 13-yard TD run and Dijon Joseph added the extra point with 2:20 to go in the third.

But the Bulldogs fought back. Sammy Gasta hit Matthew Andryusky on a reverse option pass and Colby Jenkins ran in the extra point to cut the lead to 13-7. Ashton Barnes' 27-yard touchdown with 2:06 to go then forced overtime. The Falcons got a touchdown from Singleton and the extra point from Singleton while North got a touchdown from Barnes but missed on the extra point.

10-year-olds Loganville East 12, Loganville North 6

The two rivals played three scoreless quarters before East pulled out a win. In the fourth quarter, Nick Wolaver scored on a 2-yard plunge with 7:25 left to give East a 6-0 lead. On the ensuing possession for the North squad, Sam Shepherd intercepted a pass and returned it 47 yards to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Logan Forrester bulled his way in from 5 yards out. Then with 1:08 left, the North squad used a hook and lateral as Cole Coker found Bryce Shupe, who pitched the ball to Logan Hammond for a 16-yard TD.

Eighth Grade, Division II Mill Creek North 18, North Gwinnett South 12

Mill Creek used the running of Ed West to escape with an 18-12 victory over North Gwinnett in a game that also went down to the wire.

West had a 58-yard TD in the first period that was negated by a clipping penalty, however he did get a 41-yard TD run on fourth down from the 47-yard line. Two plays later West got in from the 5-yard line as Mill Creek led 6-0 in the first quarter.

North Gwinnett's Jonathon Jones tied it with 9:27 left in the half with a 6-yard run of his own. Mill Creek's Zach Smith intercepted a pass to set up West for a 1-yard TD run seconds before the half. North Gwinnett's Ethan Kilgore found Tyler Nemec in the third to tie the score at 12, but on fourth and 2, West ran 16 yards to the 1-yard line and plunged in with 31 seconds left for the game-winner. West did intercept a pass and ran 79 yards only to be caught at the 1-yard line with no time left.

11-year-olds Lilburn South 38, Mill Creek North 19

The Lilburn Mustangs won the championship to show that the Meadowcreek and Berkmar faithful have a bright future. Stanton Truitt opened the scoring in the first period with a 5-yard TD run. Justin Woods increased the lead with a 33-yard fumble recovery for a TD.

Mill Creek's David Curry had a 57-yard run but Truitt caught him from behind before he could score, saving Lilburn's 12-0 halftime lead. The Hawks' Miles Jack opened the third quarter with a 54-yard TD run and Curry converted the extra point to trim the lead to 12-7. But the Mustangs responded with Dante Gordon's 10-yard TD run and Terrence Upshaw's 30-yard fumble recovery for a TD. Andre Moore had a 66-yard TD to cut the lead to 24-13 but Lilburn bounced back with an Upshaw 53-yard TD run and a Chris Finley 41-yard interception for a TD. Atem Ntantang finished the scoring for Mill Creek with a 5-yard run.

12-year-oldsParkview South 19, Parkview East 7

Parkview East was hoping to remain undefeated, but Ali Groves was too much as Parkview South spoiled the season with a 19-7 upset. Groves got the South on the board with a 4-yard TD run in the first quarter and added a 41-yard TD run in the second quarter. Zavier Johnson got a 56-yard TD and Anthony Covington added a conversion to pull the East within 12-7. But Groves had a big play in the fourth as he scampered 21 yards to the 4-yard line and Shaquille Vereen put the dagger in the South's undefeated hopes with a TD.

Eighth Grade North Gwinnett North 18, Mill Creek North 12

Mill Creek's Kyle Frieberger had a 37-yard interception for a TD and had another pick at the end of the first period, helping the Hawks build a 6-0 halftime lead in the eighth-grade thriller.

North Gwinnett's A.J. Clemens found Joseph Jones for a 28-yard pass in the third period but the Bulldogs again stalled. Finally Clemens found Paris Head to tie the score with a 13-yard TD with 3:41 left in the game. Mill Creek went ahead in the first overtime but Raahmil Brantley tied it up on the Bulldogs' possession.

After both teams failed to score in the second OT, the third OT was filled with excitement. North Gwinnett scored as Clemens found Head in the back of the end zone but a penalty wiped it out. That set up a 13-yard post pattern from Clemens to Jones for the game winner.