By the end of the night Friday, there were few upsets but plenty of intriguing finals, as a number of area prep football teams kept up their marches toward region titles and playoff spots.
The most exciting of those races came down to overtime in Region 8-AA, as Jefferson fended off Rabun County 26-20 behind new starting quarterback TJ Skelton.
Thrust into the starting tole due to an injury to junior Evan Shirreffs, Skelton put up three touchdowns, including the tying score that sent the contest to overtime and the winner in the extra frame -- which sent Rabun to its first loss of the season and helped the Dragons bounce back from a tough loss at Washington-Wilkes last Friday.
The night's fight to the finish came in 7-AAAAAA, where North Gwinnett bounced back to nip Mill Creek 50-47 in a wild shootout that kept the Bulldogs atop the region standings and state rankings. North Gwinnett scored three touchdowns inside the final seven minutes to pull off the comeback.
Elsewhere, Chestatee maintained its spot at the top of Region 8-AAAA, pulling away from a scoreless first half and 7-0 halftime lead to win 27-0. The War Eagles will face perhaps their toughest region test to date next week at Lanier.
In Region 7-AAA, Buford knocked White County from the list of teams with spotless 7-AAA records, hammering the Warriors 42-6 in Buford to move to 3-0 in league play. Meanwhile, North Hall also stayed perfect in 7-AAA, smacking Fannin County 62-7 in Blue Ridge. The Wolves and Trojans are currently on a collision course for November, though North Hall must navigate a tricky trip to Cleveland next week.
In 8-AAAAA, Gainesville and Flowery Branch also maintained their dominance, the Red Elephants stomping Salem 58-8 for homecoming while rolling up 466 yards of offense. The Falcons, meanwhile, headed to Winder and soared to a 44-7 win, pulling ahead 37-0 at the half. Flowery Branch and Gainesville will have to contend with Clarke Central, which is also undefeated in 8-AAAAA. The Red Elephants travel to take on the Gladiators next week.
In Region 8-A, Commerce suffered a 28-13 setback to Prince Avenue Christian -- though Lakeview Academy notched its first victory of the season, blanking Cross Keys 42-0.
Johnson also got back in the win column, pushing past Clarkston 31-21, while Union County kept pace in the 8-AA playoff race, putting away Riverside Military 40-24. Lumpkin County also just missed on its second victory of the season, falling 28-21 at Madison County, while North Forsyth stumbled to its second straight defeat in a 45-6 decision to Alpharetta.
Be sure to check our Sports, High School Sports and Friday Game Night pages for in-depth game stories, video highlights and statewide scores.
AREA PREP FOOTBALL FINALS, OCT. 11
Alpharetta 45, North Forsyth 6
Buford 42, White County 6
Chestatee 27, Walnut Grove 0
Flowery Branch 44, Winder-Barrow 7
Gainesville 58, Salem 8
Jefferson 26, Rabun County 20
Johnson 31, Clarkston 21
Lakeview Academy 42, Cross Keys 0
Loganville 29, Apalachee 21
Madison County 28, Lumpkin County 21
Meadowcreek 21, Habersham Central 14
Monroe Area 47, Stephens County 0
North Gwinnett 50, Mill Creek 47
North Hall 62, Fannin County 7
Prince Avenue 28, Commerce 13
Union County 40, Riverside Military 24