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Saturday February 6th, 2016 10:38AM

Week 11: What a finish! Branch, Wolves come up big, playoffs settled

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Flowery Branch made history, Buford flexed its muscles and we avoided the specter of the "mini-game" in a climactic finish to the 2012 high school football regular season on Friday night.

At The Branch, the Falcons' defense rose up to make a dramatic late stand against Gainesville, stopping a 2-point conversion attempt that sealed a 35-34 victory and Flowery Branch's first ever solo region championship -- in coach Chris Griffin's first season in charge.

The Region 8-AAAAA showdown lived up to its billing, as the two rivals battled back and forth throughout before Flowery Branch came up big late to grab the No. 1 seed for state. Gainesville will enter as a No. 2 seed.

(To see video highlights of the huge showdowns at Flowery Branch and Buford on Friday and a round-up of area scores and first-round state playoff match-ups for area teams, simply scroll down the page.)

While Region 7-AAA had already been settled before Friday, Buford wanted to make a statement against newly-crowned region champions North Hall. The Wolves pounced on the Trojans for a 24-0 first half lead before holding off a third-quarter charge from North Hall en route to a 45-16 win.

The Trojans will enter the state playoffs next week as a No. 1 seed at The Brickyard, while the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AAA will face a cresting Wolves program at Tom Riden Stadium.

Meanwhile, the full playoff pictures in Regions 8-AA and 7-AAA also cleared on Friday -- and without any mini-games that would have been used to separate any three-way ties for the fourth and final postseason seeds from those regions.

Dawson County clinched the No. 4 seed from 7-AAA courtesy a 42-13 defeat of West Hall to earn their first state seed since 2004. White County, which will be the No. 3 seed in 7-AAA, also won big in its final regular season game, 41-7 over Banks County.

In Region 8-AA, Rabun County ran past Oglethorpe County 49-27 to clinch the Wildcats first state spot since 1998 -- in coach Lee Shaw's first season in charge. Also in 8-AA newly-crowned region champs Jefferson squashed Union County 42-7 and Riverside crushed No. 3 playoff seed Greene County 35-3 for the Eagles second win of the season.

Elsewhere, Jackson County settled into the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AAA after a 44-28 loss to Morgan County. The Panthers will make their first ever state playoff trip next week, going on the road,

In Region 8-AAAA, Stephens County grabbed the No. 3 seed, jumping on Lumpkin County 42-3. Mill Creek also notched the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA, staring down Collins Hill 17-14.

Other outcomes on Friday included a 40-21 victory for Johnson at Heritage, Ringgold -- the Knights' first winning record since 2004.


Flowery Branch 35, Gainesville 34


Buford 45, North Hall 16


AREA FOOTBALL RESULTS, Nov. 9

Apalachee 42, Winder-Barrow 20

Buford 45, North Hall 16

Chestatee 48, Madison County 7

Dawson County 42, West Hall 13

East Hall 34, Fannin County 0

Flowery Branch 35, Gainesville 34

Johnson 40, Heritage Ringgold 21

Mill Creek 17, Collins Hill 14

Morgan County 44, Jackson County 28

North Gwinnett 24, Peachtree Ridge 20

Oconee County 41, East Jackson 7

Pinecrest Academy 31, Commerce 21

Rabun County 49, Oglethorpe County 27

Riverside Military 35, Greene County 3

South Forsyth 35, North Forsyth 14

Stephens County 42, Lumpkin County 3

Towns County 28, Hebron Christian Academy 13

White County 41, Banks County 7


CONFIRMED FIRST ROUND STATE PLAYOFF GAMES FOR AREA TEAMS

Class AAAAAA
North Gwinnett (No. 2 seed, Region 7-AAAAAA) vs. Johns Creek (No. 3, R6)
Mill Creek (No. 3, R7) at Alpharetta (R6, No. 2)

Class AAAAA
Flowery Branch (No. 1, R8) vs. North Paulding (No. 4, R5)
Gainesville (No. 2, R8) vs. Rome (No. 3, R5)

Class AAAA
Chestatee (No. 2, R8) vs. LaGrange (No. 3, R5)
Stephens County (No. 3, R8) at Carrollton (No. 2, R5)

Class AAA
North Hall (No. 1, R7) vs. Cedar Grove (No. 4, R6)
Buford (No. 2, R7) vs. Woodward Academy (No. 3, R6)
White County (No. 3, R7) at Blessed Trinity (No. 2, R6)
Dawson County (No. 4, R7) at St. Pius X (No. 1, R6)
Jackson County (No. 4, R8) at Cartersville (No. 1, R5)

Class AA
Jefferson (No. 1, R8) vs. Kendrick (No. 4, R5)
Rabun County (No. 4, R8) at Heard County (No. 1, R5)
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